This was an attempt at a satirical poem, written for my Classical Civilisations class. It’s inspired by the most common response I get from people when they hear I’m writing a book – “You should let me read it.” Should I? I always think. Is that an obligation? I should, should I? It irritates me perhaps more than it should.
These are my potential readers, who grasp at my work
with hands so desperate they will take a first draft
and ignore my cries of, “It’s not finished!” because to them,
‘the end’ is the end and not the beginning of another draft.
These are my future fans, who ask for free copies
and advance reading of new works and most of all,
they ask for my secrets and they ask me how I write.
And then, because they think I can write, they ask me
if they can. If they will be famous one day.
I look over a story, indistinguishable from ten others,
and I say, “It reminds me of a book I once read.” And that,
to them, is a compliment, and I escape gratefully.
My potential readers are desperate for my writing,
but they do not like it when I kill my characters.
My potential readers like the people I invent,
but that is not enough. They want to be inside the story,
and they say, “Can I be a character?” even though
they are well aware that I write tragedies and I kill
even the characters I loved best of all. I write them in,
but they do not see themselves in the rabid pack of fans
with their hands so desperate they would not wait.
They do not see themselves in the curious children
or the miser who will only read that which is given for free,
or the attention-seeker who wants only to be a famous.
These are my potential readers, who wonder why I am poor,
who wonder why I am not more well known,
and do not see that to live, I need people to buy my books.
I cannot give away the products of my job,
and still they ask me to. “You should let me read it,” they say.
Because my potential readers were my friends once
and I owe them that, at least. I owe them a share
in a world I created. I owe them the nights I went without sleep
to write another chapter. I owe them the conversations
I had with the people I invented. I owe them the RSI
from typing and the cost of a new computer when mine
gave up. I owe them the twists and turns of the plot
that did not go where I wanted it to. They were my friends
when we were young, and I owe them that.
After all, they are my potential readers, and I must not
alienate them. I must not send them away.
I need them to buy my books.
How do people react when you tell them you’re writing a book? What’s your general response? You don’t have to write an entire satirical poem about it, but you’re more than welcome to.