The poor thing is – the reader has no control over what happens to their favourite characters (I strongly dislike you, Veronica Roth), leaving the reader in a state of complete helplessness, leaving the reader almost feeling emotionally invested into their book. Sometimes it feels like you are handing Snow White’s evil stepmother your heart, but here’s the thing: the author has barely any more power or control over what happens in their book than you, the reader, do. Sometimes, the author is pinned into a situation, and for a story to end or continue on, they must write something that really pains them. The author has no choice – if it was written any other way, it wouldn’t be as good, it wouldn’t be as satisfying, the story wouldn’t have the right moments, and the reader wouldn’t be paralysed in sobs, curled up in the corner of their bedroom rocking back and forth (I still strongly dislike you, Veronica).
One of the main contrasts between reading and writing is that when writing you write what you want to read, and when reading, you read what others want to write. Writers have (albeit still small) choice; readers don’t. Another interesting thing to think about is how writing is influenced by the writer and those around the writer, whereas a reader and those around them can be influenced by the writing.
An author may spend many days and nights in vain, scratching deep into their brains, trying to find the right word, and a reader may spend only a minute criticizing the wrong word. You can find authors in their chair, hunched over their computer, their words barely amounting to the length of a page. They live with bloodshot eyes, pain stricken, barely getting by on coffee alone. Whereas the reader remains unaffected, lying happily on their couch by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, pointing out mistakes and bad word choices, and overall enjoying their book. When the author finishes their book, they weakly shout “Hallelujah!” and swiftly start catching up on a few months worth of sleep missed, before restarting the process all over again for another draft. When the reader finishes their book, if it is really good, they may reflect for a few moments, then turn back to page one, restarting the process all over again for another read. Writing a book is a long, complicated journey, with narrow roads and many potholes, but in the end, it is worth it. So is reading. In the beginning, you have no clue what to expect aside from positive praise or negative comments, and as the book goes on you realize just how much you like certain aspects of the storyline, the world-building, and the characters. But, as a reader, we also try to not get too involved with a book character, for fear of our heart getting broken and holding grudges forever and ever on end.
In the end, reading and writing is quite similar and yet quite contrasting; it all really depends on what side of the pen you would rather be on. But then again, who says you can’t be on both?