Wednesday, February 2, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I walked out to the mailbox and found the most delightful surprise: an envelope with a book entitled Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey. Inside the book was a little note from the brilliant, generous, talented Jessica DeHart. It said that when she reads good books, she likes to pass them on. And I was the lucky recipient! (Thank you, Jess!!!) So I sank right in.
And, of course, Jessica was right: it's a good book. And with themes on poetry and father/daughter relationships and griefing and moving on, it was a great fit for me. The basic premise has main character Flora in possession of her recently-deceased father's collection of poems. She has to decide what to do with them -- publish or not, edit or not, read or not. This is all complicated by the entry of her father's secret significant other -- the woman who inspired the love/sex poems and to whom the collection is dedicated.
Flora wonders if she is her father's "perfect reader." And it's got me thinking about MY perfect reader.
I tend to be pretty guarded about my writing in general. It's a self-protective mesasure... I just can't handle other people's input in the raw stage of development. After a few drafts, I'm okay. Although I STILL am very careful about asking for help. It's got to be just the right person.
In his poem "Selecting a Reader," Ted Kooser says, "First, I would have her be beautiful."
Don't we ALL want her to be beautiful?? (full poem found here)
In Perfect Reader, Pouncey described exactly what I look for in a reader:
“But be kind to your old dad. Don’t give me the full editorial treatment. Big pictures. Favorite and least favorite lines. Triumphs and disasters. That sort of thing.“
There's time later for the full editorial treatment... and it doesn't need to come from someone I love. I guess I need the professional distance actual editors provide... because I love revising. I love it when an editor helps my work achieve its potential.
What about all of you? What do you look for in a reader?
Oh, and to pay it forward: if you think this is a book you would enjoy, leave me a comment, and I'll send it to you! First person to request it wins!