Imagine you sit in bed, turn on the lamp, and pick up that paperback on the side table to read a few chapters before going to sleep. As soon as you turn the first page, suddenly the author is there. Sitting on the bed. Staring at you.
"Going to read my book now, are you?"
"Uh, yeah, I thought I'd read a bit."
"Not the whole thing? You won't just read straight through?"
"No, it's late, and I, you know, should sleep."
"So, it's not compelling enough to keep you up." Author scribbles something on a notepad. "Okay, that's fair. Okay."
You clear your throat. "Um, do you mind if I..."
"No, no, go ahead."
Author looks around, picks a comic book off the floor, pages through it. You start to read, but after a few pages, you can feel her eyes on you again. You ignore her. You try. But there's still that hot prickling feeling on your neck, that constant awareness of eyes on you. Hungry eyes.
"So..." the author asks casually. "What do you think so far?"
"I...uh, it's good."
"Good. Yeah, I mean, really good. Really, really good. I mean, I'm only a quarter of the way into it, so..."
"So, you're not sold yet. Interesting..." Author leans over your shoulder to look at the book and see where you are. "Yeah, I was struggling with that scene. But the next one should get better, I think. Go on, keep reading."
"K. Great. Thanks." You stare at the page. Author stares at you. At some point, someone in this scenario will run out of the room screaming. You're not sure yet which of you it will be. But soon, soon...
Seems like a fantasy, doesn't it? Some strange Twilight Zone episode? Welcome to my husband's world. Yes, he is reading my first draft of Bayern 4. At this moment. I wonder what page he's on.
"Honey, what page are you on?"
"How's it going?"
"So, that's it, huh?"
"I just wrote in the margin, this could all be very good.' Could." He chuckles at his own little joke. He's trying to keep in control, trying to be the one who won't break first. He's almost casual about this now. It is, after all, the seventh time he's read a first draft while the author watches him read and occasionally pokes him with an anxious question. Oh, he's so smug now, thinks he can take the pressure. But it's only a matter of time...