Monday, October 23, 2006

The Nicest Thing

I have to admit, sometimes I get down. I wonder if I'll ever see my book on a bookstore shelf, attend a booksigning as an author or see my book for sale on Amazon. Yes, I know there are still problems and disappointments after publication, but even knowing that, it's still what I want and what I'm working toward.

To keep me going in my darkest days, when my dreams seem more and more out of reach, I sometimes review nice things people have said about my writing. That old fragile ego just has to have some strokes and believe it or not, chocolate doesn't always work. The "I couldn't put your entry down," and "you've got a gift" for this or that, is extremely nice and I would pay money for people to tell me this all day long. But when I think back on the nicest, most rewarding and uplifting thing anyone has ever said to me about my writing, I have to choose a comment by a young college student I used to work with in Indiana. She was in her third year of college and fairly new to reading romance. One day, she asked if she could read one of my manuscripts. Me, being the shy, introverted, modest person that I am, said, "Absolutely! I'll go home and get it for you right now."

I was on pins and needles the entire weekend, just knowing she was laughing up a storm. Yes, I'm also insecure. When I saw her on Monday, she told me she was mad at me because she stayed up all night reading my book instead of studying. Well, that was a nice thing to say, but I also know that when I was in college, I would sometimes rather read a cereal box than study, so I didn't take that too much to heart. But weeks later, just in a casual conversation, she told me during Thanksgiving dinner with her family, they sat around and talked about the most memorable characters in books they'd read that year. Ones that had a major impact on them. She chose my heroine in my book as the most memorable character she'd read that year. The poor girl was somewhat startled when tears sprang to my eyes and I threw my arms around her. I don't think she anticipated what that statement meant to me.

I know that we learn more from constructive criticism than we do from compliments, but sometimes, it's so nice to know that you've touched someone or entertained them. Just remembering those comments often keeps me going.

What about you? Will you share the nicest, most uplifting comment someone said about your writing. Come on, it doesn't hurt to brag a little.


Carla Swafford said...

I have sweet critique partners that tell me nice things. Sometimes. LOL! But the one compliment that keeps me going was from my sister.

She was the daring one to read my third book and first vampire book. The other two books will never be read by anyone, ever again. Anyway, she had to read PRECIOUS ONE in parts as I was writing it as she read. So we treated it like a serial. So every few days or weeks--it took me a year to complete--I would send her a chapter or ten pages. In between, she would tell me it was driving her crazy. That she would wonder throughout the day what I would do to my heroine next. How my hero would save her and so on. Plus she LOVED my hero and wanted MORE!

That was 2001, and in 2002, I decided if I'm going to get published I better get serious about. My sister gave me that confidence.

Thanks, sis.

Deborah Matthews said...

Well, there was the contest judge who compared my writing to Amanda Quick, who is my all time favorite author.

Then, there was the reader who took A GIFT OF LOVE to a restaurant to read while she was eating alone. People were staring because she was laughing out loud.

Gaill said...

The most dearest of compliments about my writing actually came from my husband, about my current WIP. When he read chapter 1, I waited in anticpation for him to tell me it was "okay" or it was "good". What I didn't expect was what he told me. He told me that this was the best thing I had ever written, and when he said he laughed out loud at this and this and this, I knew I had finally found my voice. Funny, it is the voice of a teenaged boy!
When he read chapter 2 he asked me if it was okay for him to tell me what he didn't like, or what he thought should be changed or what could be better. SLAP ME across my head! That's what I've been wanting from anyone who reads what I write. Sure, being told you are a great writer is awesome, but like I told him, I do not want to be an American Idol joke. I do not want to be the one that hands something people have told me is fantastic to an editor just to hear "Who told you you could write?" The suggestions he made on chapter 2 were good suggestions, and it serves me well to listen to someone who has read what I have put on paper without worrying about what was actually in my head at the time I wrote it. Just the same as when someone buys my book, I don't want them to wonder what I was thinking when I thought I was a writer.