The writer met her fan at the bar. They ordered separately. The fan allowed themselves a slight smiles as the cocktail arrived. Just like in the books.
"You don't owe me," the writer said, taking a first sip. "And I don't owe you. That isn't how this works."
The fan quietly tasted her how drink.
"I write, and you read. You get what you pay for. That's the extant that either of us owe each other. I can't promise more than that in this kind of relationship. Do you understand?"
The fan smiled, and nodded. Then finished her drink. She slid a book across the bar, and the writer signed it. The fan left. The writer held up a finger to the bartender, and took out a pencil. The tip had broken off in her purse.
"A writer casts blood into the abyss. Whatever she wants to communicate, whatever intent she has, must go out all at once, or it is lost." She sharpened the pencil with the care of Van Helsing whittling a stake. "And the readers for their part are no blank slates; they bring themselves to the story, with all the baggage of their experiences. It is what makes each reading unique."
She blew off a curl of lead-tinged wood. "You can't prepare the readers, you see. You have to take them as they are." The writer looked at him suddenly. "Do you think she heard me? Do you think she understood?" The bartender didn't meet her eyes.
"Fans read what they want to read. They bring their own understanding. Writers can't control that."
The writer knocked the second cocktail back. "Something harder, next time."
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