Writer’s Gold

That’s what I call it, “writer’s gold,” when you meet someone who enjoys your writing. Writing is such a solitary art. It’s ceremonial. Writers have their traditions, habits and rituals. For me, it’s turning the lights low, getting a cup of tea, putting on some soft, quiet music, turning off the ringer on my phone, and surrendering to the gravitational force of the story. It pulls me in and I’m there, with those characters, seeing, hearing, smelling and experiencing what they do.  Mark says that you could light fire to my chair when I’m writing and I wouldn’t notice — and he’s not far off.

But you walk forward, struggling to capture the vision in your mind and describe it, not knowing if anyone will understand what you’re trying to say, or enjoy what you’re creating. It goes out and (hopefully) people read it, but you don’t sit there with them while they do (and good thing — when a writer watches someone read his work, it’s uncomfortable for both parties. The writer is hyper-focused on the reader and trying not to ask “What? Where are you?” at each sigh, laugh, gasp or facial expression, which is annoying for the reader and I’ve been there, but trust me, it’s almost impossible to resist).

So for the most part, a writer works in solitude, builds his paper boat, launches it onto the pond, and retreats to build another boat. That’s why it’s so great when someone has read something you wrote and really enjoyed it. I talked with someone the other day who read the opening of “Based On A True Story: Really (Almost) True Story,” and told me she enjoyed it a lot, it made her laugh, she recognized moments in it as moments like ones she’s had… She went on to talk about the scene with the cake and said she could see it in her mind and feel what was going on, laughing as she recounted it back to me… She also said that she was frustrated because she couldn’t keep reading and wants to buy the book!

What I hope is that the book will give the reader a bit of an escape. Life can be stressful and when it is, books have been my refuge. This person has a stressful job, and the idea that for a moment she left it behind while laughing over our book makes me happy. Hearing her enjoyment gives me heart to build more paper boats and launch them.

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