Consider David Steindl-Rast and his words about happiness and gratitude.
I’ve had wonderful experiences expressing gratitude to the writers I read. I’m surprised by their reactions to my thanksgiving. Until I remember that writers and communicators are people too. Their words come from deep, unseen places. Their stories and anecdotes, their lessons and characters come out of things we often can’t see on the page. And what they do matters. Have you thought about that, how much writing matters?
It’s definitely and a nod to the importance of reading. But words have to be printed for them to be picked up. They have to be written to be read. And I love what writers do. Aside from my obvious connection as a writer and aspirant of related futures, it’s wonderful to read something life-giving. Still, that’s not the most sparkling event of my experience.
Communicating, even just a line or two in an email, with a writer is that much more exhilarating. It brings me back to the humanity of the writer. It helps me recall that this person–whose words have created a world for me to sit in and walk in and breathe in–goes to the grocery store to pick up yogurt and broccoli and plums. She goes to restroom and leaves it stinking. He shaves and has hair to clean out of the sink. That writer reads emails from people like me. That writer needs to know that what she did or what he wrote wasn’t published without an impact.
So I want to challenge you to do something in the next week. If you’ve read an article, a blog post, a book, an essay, or something written that doesn’t fall into those categories, will you write a note to the author and send it?
Thank them. Tell them what you read and when you read it. Tell them anything you want.
I was at a conference once, in a breakout session with a novelist I attribute as responsible for my starting to desire to write fiction. One of the women in the room told her that she saw her at some random place in the neighborhood, which made me feel weird. The author was gracious.
That said, don’t find them in person. Just write them and email them. You’ll likely have to search for them through Google, but the odds are in your favor. They may or may not reply, but I’m certain they’ll appreciate it. And who knows, they may just respond right after they get home from the grocery store or, perhaps, after the come from the restroom.
For those of you who have an author you can’t email–perhaps they’re dead or reclusive–post something as a comment. Name them and their work. I’d love to know about them.