EVERY WRITER AGREES that part of the joy (and sometimes the terror) of writing is when we can see or feel the impact it has on our audience. Someone leaves a blog comment, sends an email, tweets or speaks to you in person to tell you that you've moved/helped/inspired them or entertained/made them laugh.
I've had readers of my book say “You've probably heard this a million times, but . . .” and then they tell me they got a revelation or had a breakthrough while using my writing prompts or doing an assignment in my online course. Sure, there are patterns to what I hear. But I never get sick of it.
The day I'm bored by feedback from my own readers is the day I need to croak off and let somebody younger take up my sword.
Today on my travel blog, a reader left a comment on There’s a Passport with Your Name on It saying that my story inspired her and her husband and two sons to set the intention to get their passports.
Since for four people that'll be about $550 in passport fees (including photos), not to mention the persistence to get the paperwork done and rustle up the birth certificates, I was a little awestruck. While writing the story I'd had flashes of hope that it might move someone who'd never had a passport to actually think about applying for one—but mostly I was too busy writing to get caught up in hoped-for outcome. This documented result was way more than I'd visualized.
It reminded me of the magical powers we have as writers.
Mind you, until I started thinking about it after reading that comment, I had never said to myself “I have magical powers as a writer.” Just knowing you have power can be thrilling, motivational and scary . . . but magic powers? When I see it in that light it puts even more fun into the whole writing caper. Not to mention huge impatience to cast some more spells out there!
I decided to ponder the magic powers I've used (or plan to use) in existing and future scripts.
For my first script (which is sitting in a pile of submissions at a producer's house near London, with a friend providing reminders on my behalf), I want moviegoers to feel all the same stuff they feel while watching Back to the Future: disbelief suspended by comedy and outlandish modes of travel, identifying with my main character's mission enough to root for a happy ending, entertained to the core.
I also hope the sex angle will make a few viewers squirm (it's one of those TMI things) while leaving them amused with—or maybe scornful of—the main character's predicament. I want them to feel they're more powerful than he is, until they see the rabbits he pulls out of his hat to save some butts that are special to him.
For my partly-written second script, I want to make the audience laugh simultaneous to the two halves of any couples (potential, existing or broken off) identifying so strongly with the man-woman stuff it reminds them of their own lives. I also want the lone wolf element to prickle people's set-in-stone beliefs, just as she does with her fellow characters.
For my latest script idea, the one I'm still incubating, I want to shake people up to think about possibilities beyond what they normally imagine, but in a way that relates to their own lives and problems. I want to take them into other dimensions.
How about you? Which magical powers are you wielding in your latest script/novel/poem/blog post? Do you fully believe in and accept your powers?
Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver's Travels and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer's Muse Coaching Service.
Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing
Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.
— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)