There are perks to being a writer—perks other than the ones some people might expect, those probably being immense wealth and recognition, neither of which I ever would consider as a true perk. I experienced my kind of perk this week when I received a phone call from one of my readers. He formerly lived in Bella Vista and we attended the same church at that time. That’s how I got to know Sheldon and his wife Nina. They always asked about my interests, and even attended my book signings.
Sheldon enjoys my stories (I’m truly honored and even somewhat amazed!). He shares his comments and responses to my work with me fairly frequently, and most especially when each new title comes out. After they moved to another state to be closer to family, and wintered in Arizona, he would find articles about writers and writing and send them to me. I appreciated those articles and notes. Sadly, Sheldon’s wife passed last year. He still makes it a point to keep in touch. This week, I was surprised to answer the phone to hear Sheldon’s voice. After the initial “How are you?” and “What have you been doing?” pleasantries, he asked, “So, are you working on a new book?”
“Why, yes I am. I’m a little more than half way through this new one,” I said.
Sheldon asked more questions about the plot, and then he explained that he had shared my books—all three of them—with a friend who also reads detective crime mysteries. And she enjoyed them as much as he did, he said. And now, they were both waiting for the newest story. And my heart swells! Music to a writer’s ears!
I’m not sure readers truly understand what a response to their writing means. When I published my first novel, I didn’t think much about who would read it beyond family and a few close friends. I didn’t expect to really have much of an audience, or that anyone would even pay attention. I’m just a friend, relative, with a hobby. After all, I’m just doing what I enjoy … just being me! I was wrong! (and my husband knows I don’t say that often enough) <insert grin>
The initial response to my first book was unexpected praise, (which I assumed was just because they were being nice) followed by, “What happens next? Are you doing another?”
Sometimes the query, “Are you writing?” is all it takes to keep me going.
Someone wants to know. Someone is interested in the fictional characters that are part of my life. And believe me when I say they are part of my life! They linger in the back of my brain for months before I begin to tell the story they want me to share. I research, listen to podcasts, and then I’m ready. When I’m in the thick of writing the novel, I find I can’t sleep. I wake in the night, needing to write down something about a recent event in the story. I rise in the morning and head to my computer, iPad, notes, or whatever is at hand (sometimes it’s even the back of a receipt) to get down a description or words of a character before I forget. We can be headed down the highway, listening to the radio, and something is triggered. I must get that down. Where’s a post-it?
And so, Sheldon, my friend, I truly enjoyed hearing from you in person this last week! Thanks, always, for your encouragement and support. Now, I’ll get back to that story and let you know when it’s ready! —Gail