Every writer needs a reader. Not to praise you, though she will. She’ll overlook the similes and metaphors that don’t make sense. She’ll forgive you your clichés and your heart-in-mouth rhymes, knowing instinctively that some things – no matter how overwrought or poorly-thought – need to be put down on paper and exposed to the harsh light of day. For her, your words are an escape, yet also a reminder. She treasures the vague postcards and the fading drafts that you delivered her, because she can see what you never will – that there’s genius in your scribblings, and your words do really matter. She may not understand everything you’re trying to say, but that’s okay because neither do you – you wouldn’t be writing if you did. The thing she loves most about your words is not their cleverness or wit or wisdom, but what they reveal about you.
Every writer needs a reader. Not to inspire you, though he will. With his calm pedestrian life that frightens and tantalises you in equal degrees. Stability. The antithesis of anything creative, yet that which every writer secretly aspires to. When you write for him, you write for an entire generation, as though their struggles are not your own. He can see beyond the grumpy silences and absent mumblings to the magic that you weave, spells of sound and incandescent fury that no day job or motor vehicle can ever truly rival. For him, your words are a luxury in an ocean of practicalities. He may not understand why you spurned a two-bedroom and a fixed stream of income, but that’s okay because neither do you – particularly when you realise writing by candle-light is only romantic when you can afford electricity. He loves your words because they make him forget himself.
Every writer needs a reader. You’ll live through moments of triumph and despair, but mostly you’ll just sit and talk. About life and love, and limericks, and what’s the longest you’ve gone without chocolate for. There’ll be questions, and maybe answers. You’ll drift apart to different tribes and time-zones, but the words will always bring you back. There’s always something new to say, even if both of you spend a lifetime trying to articulate it more succinctly. At every glistening sunset or comedy of errors, you’ll take a sample and file it away to share at a later stage. You’ll live through each other’s eyes and smiles, though only the most astute will comment on how you grow to resemble one another. You’ll grow and grow old together, until it’s hard to tell who’s writing and who’s reading. And then you’ll face The End together, joined not by honour or pity or compassion but by the words between you.
Your words mean nothing without them. Their words mean everything to you.