Good yarn on how writers ought to think about their readers, by Philip Roth, in the November issue of Vanity Fair:
I have a Romanian friend named Norman Manea, who's a writer, and Norman has been a friend of mine since he left Ceausescu's Romania. He lived there through the worst of the dictatorship, and they hassled him at every turn, and he couldn't get published.
So he went to see a friend who was an elderly writer he respected, and he began to complain about the fact that he had no readers. And his friend said to him, "How many readers does a writer need? Four. That's all you need is four readers. You, unfortunately, have two!"
It makes me wish I had my hands on something Larry Ragan once wrote, about the miraculous happiness he allowed himself to enjoy one evening when a stranger walked up to him at some community event and told him he'd read and enjoyed an obscure magazine Larry had edited.
They say that no one knows the influence he or she has in the world.
That's especially true of writers.
We shouldn't rue this fact.
We should quietly, humbly and hopefully, enjoy it.