The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. You can find the group on social media with #IWSG. Also, ¡Feliz cinco de Mayo! Recuerda, no hay ninguna fiesta de alcohol los estadounidenses no robarán ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Every month, a group of wonderful co-hosts steers us all towards meaningful discussion. We owe our May thanks to  Erika Beebe, PJ ColandoTonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Every month there is a (completely optional) question you can focus your post around. The May 5th question is Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect?

Why, is this a thin excuse to use the Suddenly Squirrel gif yet again?

The answer to this month’s question is yes. I’ve been surprised many times. Thanks be to all the literary gods it’s mostly been nice surprises. No one has expressed amazement at how awful my writing is, for example.

What surprises me often is which parts of my story a reader will focus on as their favorite. Something I barely even remember writing sticks out to them. The editor I sent it to points out a thematic trend I hadn’t really inserted on purpose (but you better believe I play it up after it’s pointed out to me). A bit I didn’t really think was funny makes my beta readers send me a smiley face emoji and an LOL and I blink at the sentence for a while thinking, that part? Really? Huh.

It reminds me that we all approach a book differently, looking for unique things. I can hit the specific story beats and know that I’m doing it on purpose. When I throw obstacles at my characters I’m doing it with the certain knowledge that I’m trying to provoke a reaction from my readers. Yep, I am that mean on purpose. But no matter what overt manipulation I’m throwing into a story, every single person reading my book is coming into it with different lives, experiences, habits, quirks. What stands out to them will always be a part of their personal journey. I’m just excited that I’m able to be a part of it.

Chuck Wendig has an awesome take on this theory about being the Puppetmaster of your own story on purpose. I must warn you it contains a considerable amount of cussing and some super visceral visuals. These are the things I love about Wendig but I felt like I should warn you ahead of time in case those aren’t your favorites.