“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” This line, perhaps one of Broadway’s most memorable and enigmatic lines, spoken by Blanche Dubois at the end of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire has special meaning for authors.
I was thinking of that this morning when I noticed another rating on Goodreads for my book, CAIRNAERIE. Recasting Mr. Williams’ words, I might write: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the reviews from strangers.”
Every author, indeed almost every writer, feels some trepidation about putting their work out for the world to read. It is wholly intimidating. You think you’ve worked hard. You think you might have a readable book. You hope you do, at least. And you timidly peel back the cover and let readers in.
Your friends — and mine are the very best in the world — are almost universally affirming. They do, as I would do, find something positive to say, some encouraging word. Some of them are more effusive than others because some readers like it better than others. Some readers are tepid. And a few say nothing, prescribing to the dictum that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. And that’s fine, too; I can assume my book isn’t quite their cup of tea.
And that really is fine. Most readers, me included, have strong opinions about what they like and what they don’t like. Assessing a book is highly subjective — like any art. Different genres. Different tastes. Different likes and dislikes.
There is one group, however, whose reviews or ratings are especially affirming —those from strangers. When readers who do not know me and who have no vested interest in a friendship actually like my book, it feels great.
So a nod to all those strangers who have reviewed or rated my book, I am so pleased that you took the time to read it — and I am enormously grateful that you took the extra step of rating or reviewing it.
So whoever you are, I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.