Yesterday morning, I finished a big release at work. Of all the writing I do, technical writing pays the most bills. I write for a software company that serves the hospitality industry.
I like hotels.
Even tiny motels where people try their best with what they have. I will always remember a motel on a mountaintop in Utah where the owner was hosting a family reunion when a friend and I stopped in, and how we were invited to take part in all the food and festivities in the courtyard. My friend and I were going to a juggling convention in Denver, so we performed for everyone.
It was a great exchange.
I view writing as a great exchange.
An Inviting Read
It’s a lot to ask a reader to spend 6 – 12 hours of their time with something you wrote. With all the other things a reader can do, for them to spend time with your book is a great honor — and I believe writers should be hospitable in their efforts. This is not to say that all stories should be a cozy hotel bed in a luxurious room; it simply means that even if you are writing an edgy story that it be written to the best of one’s abilities and to not be self serving.
It means not wasting a reader’s time.
To not write to the best of your abilities is like leaving a stain on the rug in the lobby. To not focus on the sound of what will be read in people’s heads or recorded narration is like letting the rattling ice maker near the elevators become a cacophony. To not make sure everything is in order is like allowing someone to check into a room that’s not been cleaned.
Doing One’s Best
If I serve you dinner, even if you’re a good friend and it’s a casual evening, I can only do my best. I know the food and drink do not have to be perfect — that my friends are usually just happy enough to be visiting — but I will go as all out as possible, even if I’m just getting you a glass of water.
And that’s what I do with writing.
To not consider the reader and to not make sure my stories are in order is to not be hospitable and value your time. It would be like checking into a hotel to a gum-smacking, “I-couldn’t-care-any-less-about-you; in-fact, I-wish-you’d-just-go-the-hell-away” person running the front desk at a nice hotel.
It’s not just a first impression — it’s care reflected in every nook and cranny, whether it’s a hotel or a novel.
When the visit or read is complete, the goal is to have given someone an experience they feel only you can give them.
Anything less, and you shouldn’t even bother…