I read a report last week that said a quarter of the UK's adult population had read a book less than twice in the last six months. Pretty depressing for a writer to hear that, right? After all, I write to be read as do a lot of other writers (not all do, it has to be said. Some simply write for the pleasure of writing). If that many people in my country don't have time or aren't making time for reading a book, then that's not great news for me.
Or is it potential?
At the same time, I've been struggling with a short story over the last couple of weeks. It's a decent idea, or so I think, but I've been having a nightmare judging whether or not it's any good. I had an idea which might have improved it, but it also would have increased the length and possibly maybe made it baggier instead of the tight, creepy story I wanted. So I passed it on to a writer friend who pointed out of a couple of issues (ones which are easy to fix, thankfully), said they liked a particular point which I also really liked and, in a brief comment, gave me an idea which might take this story from a decent idea to a great horror tale. It's all up to me, of course. If I get it wrong, then the story loses. But if I get this right...
Two seemingly unrelated issues which, at first glance, appear to be problems. People aren't reading. I'm writing as are countless others. If more people follow those twelve million and don't make time for a good story, I'm screwed. And one of my short stories which could have gone down the toilet because I coudn't judge its value without some help. So, problems or potential? There are a lot of people out there who I or any other writer could snag with something we've written. Twelve million people who might see my name somewhere or see the front cover of a book they've never heard of and be interested enough to pick it up. They may not, of course. Plenty of them may not, but some might. If I turn this story into something special, if I ensure everything I write is something special, then they might.
All writers have to do is turn things around.