Recently I had to take my daughter to the doctor. The creeping crud got hold of her and it was time for her to either get the antibiotics (again) or the liquid gold, aka, the shot. While there, a parent of two children sat beside me in the lab waiting room. She made a comment that reminded me of a story I heard a couple years ago.
The comment: “I love this place. They are so fast and never keep you waiting. I wish doctors for adults were that way.”
Don’t we all?
This reminded me of the story of an attorney who went to see the doctor. He arrived on time, signed in and took a seat. And he waited. The time for his scheduled appointment came and went and kept on going. The office wasn’t particularly busy on that day, but still the attorney waited almost an hour before his name was called and he was taken back to the examination room, where he waited for another half an hour before the doctor came in to see him.
The attorney was not happy. Since he was at the doctor’s office in what was supposed to be a routine check-up, he was not at his office working for his clients, which meant he could not bill them. He lost an hour and a half worth of his time that he could have been making money.
The rest of the story is fairly simplistic. The attorney informed the doctor about his dissatisfaction, and then billed him for the hour and a half he sat in the waiting and exam rooms. The fact was clear in the attorney’s mind: his time was valuable and the doctor didn’t respect it.
Not that it matters for the story, but the doctor ended up paying the bill.
Let’s take a step back, zoom in with our motion picture hands to our faces.
What is the point to the story? Ah, that’s right, that everyone’s time is valuable to them.
Your time is important to you. How you spend your time is important to you. And for someone to waste your time—YOUR, being the operative word here—is disrespectful and rude and insensitive.
Wait. What’s that? I’m getting a little carried away? Am I? I don’t think so, and I’ll try and explain this the best I can.
Have you ever watched a movie or listened to a speaker or spent time with someone you really don’t like and came away thinking, ‘I’ll never get that time back.’ A show of hands, how many people have had that very thing happen? Wow, almost all of you.
Would you say in those instances that you could have been doing something better or more productive with your time? If you can, then that event or person to which you ‘will never get that time back’ from wasted your time. Pretty logical deduction, if you ask me.
A few years ago I went to a family reunion. No, it wasn’t my family. It was boring. The few folks I talked to were self-serving and self-centered. Yet, I spent three hours there—three hours I will never EVER get back. I wasn’t the only one who thought that, either.
My time was wasted.
Now, to get to the point.
Dear Writers (myself included),
You have an obligation to the readers. Make your work interesting. Make the readers fall in love or hate your characters. Give them something to hold onto. Don’t just write meaningless action or sex or gore just because you can, but make those things matter in the readers’ minds. Remember, just because it is in your head, it doesn’t mean the readers can see it. You have to help them visualize it. You have to help them feel it.
Remember, Dear Writers, that just because you ‘get it’ doesn’t mean the readers will. Make sure you’re not confusing. Make sure that your words make sense. Make sure your adjectives and verbs fit the situation. Make sure the dialogue is as realistic as in real life.
Enjoy the process and never get ahead of yourself. Remember, if you skim over your work when editing, the readers will skim over it when reading.
Confidence shows in the words you write, so believe in yourselves.
It is your job, not only write the stories that the readers will read, but to entertain them and to not waste their time. When that reader puts your book down or finishes your short story, then they need to feel as if it was time well spent. A reader should never come away saying, ‘that’s time I’ll never get back.’
Remember, their time is valuable and if you waste it with crappy words, then you may never get another minute of their time again.
A writer and a reader all rolled up in one.
But wait. I’m not quite done.
Thank you for taking the time to pick up our books, to spend a little bit of your hard earned money for a little entertainment that may be unknown to you. For all you know, you are getting a Jack-In-the-Box with a demon clown’s head attached to the spring load. Thank you for your willingness to sit down in your favorite chair or in the coffee shop or tucked beneath the covers at home with one of our books. We, the writers, hope (and pray) that you enjoy our books and will be willing to purchase another on down the road.
If you enjoyed our books, then please, feel free to share that with your friends. A simple, ‘hey, you gotta read this’ will go a long way to helping us achieve our goals of getting our stories in front of every possible reader we can. If you enjoyed the books and have a blog or website or Amazon account (especially if you purchased it on Amazon), then would you consider leaving a review? That helps us as well. I know it will take a moment of your time, but it will be well spent time.
And, Dear Readers, if you did not enjoy our books, we are sorry. Truly, we are. If you didn’t enjoy them, then we failed you and wasted your time. For that, we apologize and hope you will give us another chance.
But also, Dear Readers, if you didn’t like our books, please be honest about it. Don’t be mean and hateful if you take the time to review the book. Be honest and insightful—that helps both the other readers and us writers. We learn from what you say.
You see, those folks who write the stories spend a lot of their time doing so. They work hard (well, most of them do) to create the stories that are put out for the masses to read, the masses that we have a hard time attracting. We worry over the characters and scenes and dialogue and plot (oh yes, there is always the plot). If it takes you a week to read a novel, you can guarantee it took a lot longer for the writer to pen it.
We understand if you don’t like a book, but be fair and honest, not vengeful.
Once again, Dear Readers, we thank you for your willingness to take a chance on those of us you may never have heard of. We hope we have not let you down.
A reader and writer all rolled up in one.
Did you really think I was done already? Just another couple of minutes of your (very valuable) time and I’ll be done.
Time. It’s the one thing you can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. With that in mind, this writer who is a reader as well, ask that Writers, remember your readers’ time is important to them. Please, don’t waste it. And Readers, a writer’s time is important as well—respect their work and them. Honestly, if not for readers, writers wouldn’t have an audience, and if not for writers, readers would have nothing to read. We need each other—our time is valuable. To each of us, don’t disrespect each other by not respecting their time, and just how important it is.
Until we meet again, my friends…