One of the best things about publishing is what I think of as "joining the conversation." So many times, as a young reader, I would converse with a book's characters, or with my conception of the writer, in my mind. So many times I wanted to ask, "Why did the story go there?" or "What's that based on?" or say, "Here's what I took from that," or, "Here's where I wished that would go."
Writing can bring us in touch with ourselves, and often that's enough. But when we share our poetry at the local open mic, or carry on a correspondence, or publish something that finds a wider audience, the resulting dialogues are special too. As readers and as writers, we talk about themes and trends, about language, about history and politics, creativity and imagination, hopes and dreams, voice and point of view, fears and power, memory and uncertainty. Writing reflects what matters to people, and our discussions inform our writing just as writing informs our discussions. There's always "the book everyone's talking about," but there's also, "the book I'll never forget," "the first book I loved," "the book that changed my mind," "the book about which I've changed my mind," "the book everyone else loves but I just didn't get," "the book I wish everyone would read," and of course, always, "the next book I want to read." May the circle keep widening.