That’s what it says to you.
It says ‘look’.
It’s a voice compelling as a crooked finger. Whether willing or unwilling you are doomed to obey. What is it? Fascination.
To a certain extent, no matter what it is you are doing, you are going to want to provoke this in people. Of course, if you provoke it and then fail to pay off, you may never manage to provoke it again. Your lures might be forever associated with disappointment.
Equally, if you go too far in the opposite direction, provide too much, you’ll become off-putting. Something people might occasionally go and look again just to prove to themselves, yes, you really are that odd.
It won’t be because they like you. No. It’ll be because you’ve just acquired the same draw, the selfsame appeal, of the gory roadside attraction. Of blood and guts and mayhem. It’s not flattering to realise people are only checking in to see how much of a mess you look, is it?
In this battle you’re looking to do one thing and one thing alone, and not only that, to do it well. You’re looking to snare by means of fascination and then back it up with a full, hearty meal of full on awesome.
You want people to come back again and again because the steak in peppercorn sauce of your writing, your art, your product is so gosh-darned unbelievably sexy they want to rub their faces in it and call it baby.
It’s a fine art, a balancing act of major proportions and an absolute bugger of a whip hand driving you along every time you take up fingers on keyboard to fight the good word fight. Because what we as writers think is interesting is not always the same as what a reader might think of as interesting.
And how do you hit that fine balance and trip the correct portion of fascination to keep a reader? Well, it’s a bit like alchemy… a delicate concoction of character, tension, plot, story and words. The wholesome (or slightly naughty) ingredients that comprise that gooey, more-ish word cake, or steak.
We read books on this shit like they’re going out of fashion, be they helpful or a hindrance to our development. Read our favourite authors again and again to re-visit their particular alchemical equations, to use theirs to refine our own or in the hopes that greatness might somehow rub off. Or even ‘wax on, wax off’ a sort of mechanical muscle memory that translates to kickassery.
In the end though it comes down to one thing. Writing the words and putting them out there. If you never expose them to the eyes of others you will never know whether they are sexy steak in peppercorn sauce or a morbidly interesting slew of roadside carnage.
You write to be read and you deal with the consequences, be they good or bad, without complaint. That, my friends, is a stone cold fact. Complaint is not a writer’s friend. Nor is excessive pride. Nor, indeed, is inability to take criticism.
We all want to make the perfect word cake (or steak). And you can’t bake a perfect cake without breaking a few eggs… it’s a process. Dive into it. Revel in it. Because the day your words elicit that cake/steak level of fascination and you receive words of praise, you will understand how much it was worth it.