I love this bit of wisdom from John Matthew Fox—a writer and editor whose emails I subscribe to. It’s something that I’ve thought about in regard to my own books and then dismissed because it seemed unimaginable that my books would affect anyone beyond a few hours of pleasurable reading. But, as I struggled with the latest River’s Edge story—Max and Lauren’s—I came back to this snippet from Fox.
Truth is, my words do matter and when I write them, even when I struggle with the story and it feels as if I’m pulling the words from the very depths of my soul, my books matter. They make a difference in the world and in someone’s life. Somewhere, a reader is smiling or crying or laughing because my words wrought emotion in them. That’s a powerful feeling—not a feeling of power—but an idea that can overwhelm and often does.
Someone once said, and there is controversy over whose words these were originally, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Whoever said it, most writers I know would agree. We pour ourselves into our stories—our dreams, our hopes, our fears, our visions of life are all out there on the page for others to view and comment upon. That’s some scary stuff, you know, putting me out like that.
Mostly, reviews of my books are kind, people enjoy the few hours of escape that I provide, which warms my heart. But, bad reviews, particularly about the writing, not the stories, cut me to the quick. They don’t stop me, though. Rather, they make me want to be a better writer and I try hard to be better with each book. I don’t know if I get that done or not. These words from Jenny Crusie, one of my favorite rom-com writers, hearten me when I’ve finished a book as I just have and I’m wondering whether it’s going to work, “I once had the insane idea that each book had to better than the last: that way lay madness.”
I am a writer. I am a damn good writer, actually. The characters are always in my head—good or bad—I need to get them out and tell their stories, so I’ll continue to write and hope my stories provide some much-needed respite for someone, a moment or two of pleasure in the ordinariness of everyday life.
Stay well, stay safe, and most of all, mes amies, stay grateful.