My good friend, Vanessa wrote a review on All the people imagine and other short short stories a few days ago.
I didn't mention it here immediately because I felt too excited and thought I should spend some time to think about it first.
For quite a few times in the past weeks, I've explained my motivation to get my work out there to friends, that it is really about the inexplicable joy I feel when my writing gets read, interpreted, and translated into an idea or any other reaction by the reader. I get a kick out of it.
I write most of my pieces through “automatic writing”, that is, writing whatever comes to my mind, without planning ahead, in perhaps a semi-meditative state. So, I am sometimes led to believe that my stories are gifts presented to me so that I can write it down for whoever else is meant to read it. In fact, I sometimes read my own writing and surprise myself with the content, because I wasn't entirely conscious of what I had written before. On some levels I feel like a Chinese letter writer from colonial times, helping illiterate migrant workers write letters to their family back home, or someone working in the post-office, sorting out mail.
Feedback on my writing is precious to me, because hearing from readers “closes the loop” and lets me know that something worked and responses were provoked, and knowing these things, in turn, encourage me to continue doing what I'm doing. It's like a post-office mail-sorter hearing from the recipient of a letter that he helped to pass along that the recipient “got it”. It helps the mail-sorter feel that the things he does go beyond the seemingly mundane pointlessness of mail-room work. And so, I get a kick out of it.
Reading Vanessa's piece about my collection is one of the most important and significant milestones of my writing career. While I've gotten many valued feedback and encouragement along the way, V's essay is by far the most tangible and immediate record of a reader's reaction to my work.
You may think, "Yeah, she's your good friend, so she'll write nice things about your work, so it doesn't mean too much." But the piece is all the more valuable to me because I know her very well and I trust that she wouldn't write what she didn’t mean.
And yeah... so V, I agree with you. "When you know the writer, the knowledge transforms your act of reading."
Thank you very, very much.