I suppose it was my daughter’s patient face that finally let the penny drop. You have to be an author yourself to understand how involved and enthusiastic one can become with a story that’s in progress – or even finished!
For readers, it is only entertainment or an excuse to reflect on ideas put forth with no real substance. Written works aren’t tangible, mere ideas or images, but try telling that to the author who has been living and breathing with his people, carried along he knows not where, until the end! And then again, is there really an end?
I have had the great good fortune of being in contact with other authors. With the magic of the internet, I can discuss writing and the drift it’s taking with someone on the other side of the world in minutes, which leaves me wondering about writing a hundred or more years ago. How hermetic the literary world must have been before the internet! So many miles to travel to meet a fellow-writer or days to wait before letters arrived.
Charles Dickens died at 58 from what seems to me to be exhaustion from his physical efforts to meet other authors and to promote his works. He actually escaped death in a train crash from one such journey.
So today, it would seem that we are not so isolated in that hermetic literary experience. We have access to a whole world of fellow-writers who understand the emotion involved in each work, compensation for the readers who are only there for the final product – the entertainment…