“I couldn’t put it down.”
What author doesn’t love to hear that?! Especially about their debut novel!
I had a late lunch/early dinner (I’ll call it “lunner”) at a nearby restaurant. It had been a full, yet satisfying day. On many levels, things are starting to improve for me. I won’t go into dramatic detail, but I felt better Friday than I had in months. The stress of dealing with aging parents and now unemployment in the midst of a global pandemic has beaten my mental and physical health down worse than anything I’ve ever experienced.
So I decided to treat myself for a good meal and a couple of mixed drinks. My favorite server, Kendra*, was staffing the bar, and after providing my first beverage, suddenly told me how much she loved my novel, The Silent Fountain. I have known Kendra for a few years and only through the restaurant where she works – long and hard. It seems every time I visit the place, Kendra is there. I had provided her an autographed copy of the book back in June, shortly after my mother died. Friday was the first time I’d been to the restaurant since then.
I didn’t expect Kendra to bring up The Silent Fountain. Her reaction to it was extraordinary. It’s my nature to be suspicious of people most of the time. I don’t know Kendra that well, but I like her. She has a pleasant and personable demeanor. Still, it took me a little while to accept fully how much she seems to like my book. I thought she might be exaggerating just to make me feel good and because I’m somewhat of a regular who tips very well. So I just let her talk.
And I quickly realized the impact the tale had on her. In fact, it had the effect I hope to achieve with my readers – for this and all of my stories. The characters and the locale meshed with the pastoral imagery to create the universe in Kendra’s mind that I envisioned in my own. A few others who have read it so far have had mostly the same response.
It’s intoxicating to hear all of that, but I have to temper my literary ego with sanity. Writers work hard to compose a world – realistic or fantastic – within their stories. We always want to attain that level of likeability as raconteurs; as someone who can dream up a tale – no matter how outrageous – and still be credible. But then isn’t that what all artists want?
I’ve come to accept that I may never become rich and famous with my writing, and that’s genuinely fine with me. I don’t write stories – and I didn’t start this blog – to become acclaimed and unbelievably wealthy. Admittedly, that would be great and ideal, but it simply isn’t realistic. And no one should engage in any kind of artistic pursuit with that goal in mind. It’s foolish.
But if I don’t achieve any kind of notoriety until after I die, then that would be just as good for me. We are still consuming the writings and other artworks of people who passed away long ago. Kendra is just one person, yet her opinion meant so much to me. She expressed what I hoped someone would feel when they read that book. Again, that’s what every artist wants: to be appreciated.