About Doors on Books, and Readers Walking In

Sarah had a magic pen.
She’d write a story now and then.
And when her words were softly spoken,
on the page a door would open.


I’m not sure where the above lines come from, but they seem to have been dancing around in my head for some time. I may have gotten them from a book. I may have made them up. Or, it could be a combination of the two. But, I love the image those lines create — of words opening doors to other lands, and of believing that little Sarah was about to climb right inside the book to walk between its pages.

Isn’t this the exact image any writer would love to have of their ideal reader?

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of a project I mentioned about five weeks ago. This is a story I was resisting because it was so different from anything I had written before. This is a story that I needed courage to write — to get those words down without second-guessing myself, or dwelling on my foolishness for trying.

It’s not ready yet, and I expect the revisions will take some time. There are gaps so deep that all I could write was (More here later), as I tried to keep up with the the pace of which the words were coming. But the bones are there: An odd girl. A cruel riot. Some laughter. Much pain.

Along with this unstable plot structure, comes the blurry picture of an ideal reader. Shimmering a bit. Fading in and out a little. But there.

The book will rest today, and probably for many days ahead before I decide to pick it up again to wade carefully through the muck. Instead, I’m pulling a new scrap of paper from my “Ideas” folder, and seeing where it leads me.

Hopefully, a door will open, and I’ll want to jump into the pages and play along.


I’m curious — What are you working on today? Who are you writing for?

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving


39 thoughts on “About Doors on Books, and Readers Walking In”

    1. It’s been fun and interesting. I do normally write quickly once I start, but usually there’s a lot of stopping and pondering going on. Weeks, months, years of pondering. 😉


  1. You know, you’ve been hitting a lot of nerves this week. Actually your post are staring starting to scare me a little. Why are you in my head! See, I started this story a year and a half ago. It was a half-cocked dream about writing; actually, it was just to write and then it kind of became a goal, but now it’s just taking up minimal space on my lap top. I kind of gave up on it because it seemed like it was doomed to fail. I actually never gave it a fighting chance, a real opportunity to thrive. So your post have been reminding me of giving a piece of writing a real chance before we doom it to the WPB (or recycle bin, if you will). This post especially has me wondering if I should resurrect that story. It’s kind of along the lines of Nicholas Sparks, you know: all lovey-dovey (finding love; losing love; going crazy in a comical way about it). Well, I think I will give it a chance. At least I’ll finish it even if it never sees the light of day. Thanks for the encouragement!


  2. Hmm. I’d amend it to ‘Sarah had a magic pen, she wrote a story every single when’. Okay, I know it’s not good, but the point is, your point is, you have to keep working at it every day. So my advice is not to put that project of yours away but to stick with it now, to go back to those (More here later) passages and start filling them in now, while the story is still fresh. Only rabid single-minded discipline will see that project through.

    But you know all this. You’re good, Amanda.


  3. Today, I am working on something I’m not supposed to be working on yet. I am taking some interviews I did for my blog, along with some research, and writing about book about marriage. It’s scary, because I’ve only written a few non-fiction pieces (aside from papers in college), I’ve never been married, and I’m facing some oppositional, pessimistic views of my working on the project, but it’s the one that keeps coming back up, so I’m going to work on it.

    I enjoyed this imagery. My all time favorite is what Stephen King described in Misery: an image of a rabbit hole opening up in the page, and following the white rabbit down the hole. I always feel like I’ve free fallen down a rabbit hole into another world when I read a really good book. I look up dazed and not really sure where I am. This described the way reading and writing were for me perfectly.


  4. Today I’ve been working on edits all day (and trying to come up with catchier titles for Goodbye, Charlie). My brain is kind of fried. I was hoping to do my 1k words for WIP later tonight, but it’s not looking good.
    I love this post, though! And congrats on getting the bones of your new project. Sounds intriguing.



  5. Hooray! Congrats, Amanda, for sitting down and doing it. That must have been one helluva idea to get you going like that and not let go. I bet when you’re done with it, there will be many readers who will walk through that door.

    What am I working on? I suppose I’m thinking of a McSweeney’s submission, but a fabulous idea has not jumped out at me.


    1. Thank you! Yes, the idea grabbed hold, but we’ll see what/if anything comes of it. It was fun either way.

      Tarja, you are so McSweeney material! Keep me posted. Good luck!


  6. So exciting, to be through that first draft! And, I love those opening words of your post. Perfect.

    Boy, it’s hard for me to imagine my ideal reader. Like you, I see a vague image here and there, mostly strangers. Then, sometimes, I give my husband the fish-eye and wonder if he might be one of those “people.”

    Right now, I’m plowing through this 2nd (or 3rd, but much better) draft. Well, plowing might be too ambitious, but I’m moving along, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to get to the end of this round!


    1. Thank you, Christi 🙂

      From all you have going on in your writing life lately, I would say that “plowing” is exactly the right word. I hope this draft comes quickly and easily for you.


  7. I’m so, so, so excited for you, and I wish I could beg you to let me read it. But in the meantime, I’ll just cheer you on. Five weeks is one amazing feat. So proud of you, friend! Can’t wait to hear what happens when you get back to it!


    1. Thank you, Maura. I’m so grateful for all of these cheerleaders in the writing community.

      I’m hoping I don’t go back to it with a “What was I thinking?” chagrin. It was a fun experiment, in the least.


  8. I am making sure I do a blog a day on the wordpress challenge. I am also working on a poems ebook to publish. I have ton’s of ideas about ebooks to give away. That is what I work on daily.


    1. Sounds like you are very busy. Good luck with all of your challenges. I’m planning on doing the April poem a day challenge — we’ll see how that goes. Thanks for reading, Jackie!


  9. What a beautiful image. The door to so many worlds opening through the pages of a book.
    I am still working on my books (both of them) but I haven’t done much in the past week, My dog had an emergency so I’ve been tied up. But the first book is also most done. The chapters about the present are the last to write and I have a ways to go with them. The other book needs more stories and I need to work on that.


  10. Congratulations on that first draft, Amanda. I always thought writing was the hard part. Rewriting is hard, too, but at least you’ll be starting with something, you know?


  11. My novel spans two hundred years, and I just got to the point in it where the next and final scene will be in the current time. Which means I no longer have to scare up history, and it’s a big downhill coast from here. I’m actually holding off to enjoy the anticipation.


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