Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jane on the Train




         Writing is a two way street. Unless journaling in a diary hidden away for no one to see, a writer has an audience, someone who will read the work. The reader is the other side of the street, the person on the other side of the story.
I keep an ideal reader in my mind as I write and edit my work. I call her Jane Smith. She’s an ordinary sort of woman, middle aged with a few wrinkle lines and maybe with a few extra pounds.  She’s smart with a decent education and, most importantly, she’s well read. My Jane reads everything she can get her hands on. Jane will read the cereal box if nothing else is available at the breakfast table.
            As I write, Jane sits beside me. I love making her laugh. Sometimes, if I work hard at it, I can make her cry. Always, I aim to take her deep into my story, to a place where she forgets all else but the characters and where they are and what they are doing.
There are lots of Janes in the world. I found one of them on the train last weekend. My husband and I spent the weekend in Manhattan. We do this as often as we can afford, once or twice a year going into the city to see some great theater and eat some terrific food. Because driving and parking in the city is something we’d rather avoid, we drive to Connecticut and take the commuter train.
           Last week, we rode in on a Friday afternoon. The local from Stamford to Grand Central Station was crowded but not so much that we couldn’t find a seat. The train rocked onward, stopping every few minutes to pick up new passengers. It seemed, as it always does, to take a long time. Finally, we got to 125th Street, the last stop before the train headed down into the dark tunnels under Manhattan. Grand Central was next.
           We weren’t there yet, not quite, but as we approached passengers got ready to disembark. A few stood at the door. Jane was among them. She stood, suitcase at her feet and book still in hand. She read as the train slowed for the long final push into the station. She continued to read as the conductor announced the stop.  She seemed not to notice the change in light, the slight lurch as the train hunched forward to a final stop. She read until the doors opened and even then, put the book down reluctantly.
            I could not see what she was reading so intently, though the soft blue cover suggested a novel of some sort. I think that whoever wrote the book in Jane’s hand would have been happy to know that her story was so compelling that, even as the train came to a halt in the busy station, Jane had a hard time putting it away. I found myself wishing that it were my book.
May we all find readers like Jane on the train. May we all write books like the one in her hand.

8 comments:

January Bain said...

The perfect audience. Ute, what an interesting blog! I love that you see Jane so clearly. When I'm writing it's because I want to leave the bonds of Earth behind and be immersed in the story and live through the characters in the story. But you know exactly who you are writing for and she's in your minds eye. Fascinating stuff!!!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'd been looking for Jane my whole writing life. I do have one Jane. She's read every book I've written -- twice.

Her name is Kay, and she's 93, but looks like your Jane. May the Janes of this world find us before they get too old to read anything twice.

Ute Carbone said...

Thanks Jan! Hope you find your Jane.
And Julie, it would be great if Jane could find us. Can I borrow Kay??

Rhobin said...

Having Janes is always good.

Big Mike said...

Interesting. Does that mean you don't expect guys to read your books? I actually try to write so that both guys and girls will enjoy the story, the suspense, the theme, and even the romance. No, never said it was easy. Men and women want different things in their characters and novels. And although I've had some guys balk at the romantic flair on the artwork (publisher does it, not me) the guys love the stories also, but like I said, it is hard to merge into the diverse worlds of gender preference.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Ute Carbone said...

Shoot Mike, now i have to keep Jane and John in my office. It's going to get crowded in here! You're quite right, and I would love to get some male readers as well. I think, though, that what I write appeals, primarily, to a female audience. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. I'd LOVE to be proven wrong, by the way!

Big Mike said...

Funny thing Ute is when female readers tell me they encouraged their husbands to read one of my stories, which the guy does reluctantly, then by the last page he asks for one of my other novels on her shelf. According to those ladies, the guys always say they skip the romantic parts. Men. Guess I'm the only big guy with a mushy side (g).

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Kay would love that, Ute. She's very friendly.