Remember that excitement that comes along and takes up residence in your every waking thought at the prospect of a new story? New beginnings always hold an incandescent magic that sweep us along. Our characters rush through our everyday thoughts like adrenaline attached to a forbidden love. Plotting when we should be driving. Daydreaming in the shower and not bothering to stop and dry off before you can capture words in the spiral before they're lost. Living in the new world you've created in moments where you appear to be doing nothing more than waiting in the carpool line like every other parent.
But as with falling in love, the bruises begin to show. Holes in plot or research. Character issues you'd not anticipated. For many years, I'd mourn the loss of the first stage of exuberance and allow it to mire my passion for the story until I could go no further. The dreaded "sagging middle"; where like all of us in the real world, our imperfections can keep us bogged down.
Stephen King believes in having one "ideal reader." Someone whose opinion you crave and desire to please above all others. This person, whom you trust completely with the very essence of yourself you've poured onto the page, can only enter the love affair after it's finished. He believes writers should resist the temptation at all costs to give into the part of your internal editor that seeks reassurance and praise along the way. In doing so, we give away a glimmer of the magic. Words from our critique partners are no longer our own. Well-meaning readers can steer a story off-course as quickly as gale-force winds in what you thought was a solitary journey.
I'm in the infatuation stage with my current work, filled with hopes and anticipation of getting to each and every morsel that seems predestined and ready to write itself in my mind. I know the day will come when the bruises show, but this time I will hoarde the magic. Savor its every last breath until the time I can present my ideal reader this ultimate gift--a story uniquely mine, untainted by the fingerprints of other's thoughts and opinions.
And ultimately, isn't that what resonates with the reader?
Who is your ideal reader? When do you turn over your writing for others to see?