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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Silence is Golden? Not so Much.

You know that sound, the echo of your own thoughts bouncing off the infinite emptiness of the universe? Silence!

There were times as a young mother when I would probably have given my best pair of designer knock-off platform heels for a few moments of that silence. At the end of a day, when I left a classroom of preschoolers for my two under-the-age-of-seven offspring, I admit I wanted nothing so much as the silent solitude of my closet-sized kitchen. Parking my children in front of Halfpint and the gang at Little House on the Prairie in exchange for a few quiet minutes seemed a forgivable offense.

As the saying goes, it's all or nothing. Forty years ago, silence was indeed golden. Fast forward a few decades and all this silence can get downright depressing.

Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate quiet. As a writer, it's essential. What I'm talking about here is silence as a response. You know those Christmas cards you send to old friends, closing your note with "I'd love to hear how you're doing?" And the doubt you feel when nothing comes back--not a note, not a phone call, not even a card the next Christmas? Don't they like you anymore? Do they even remember who you are?

(I could mention here that blogging is much the same experience. I have very little success rousing any kind of response to my posts. I'm beginning to think the majority of my followers are bots, which is really kind of creepy. But that's another post.)

I write books, each of which is a labor of love. I get so involved in my characters that I go through a kind of grief/withdrawal when their story ends. Like sending your children off to kindergarten, I experience a mixture of proud expectation and panic after hitting that magical "Publish" button, sending my stories into the vast unknown. And then I wait. In silence. I watch the sales numbers creeping upward. Somewhere out there, my books are stored in a fair number of Kindles. Waiting to be read. Being read. Have been read. Finally, the silence is broken. Those first reviews are like the voices of a rescue party coming through the fog. Someone heard me after all!

A book is only words on paper until it touches a reader. For this writer, putting a face or at least a  voice to that reader is a priceless return on my heartfelt labor. When someone tells me they read my book, I'm thrilled! They don't even have to say they liked it!

Recently, things have been a bit slow. Summers are like that. There are so many things to do other than read. I don't begrudge folks their vacations, or all the other wonderful pastimes that fill the short months. Hearing from a reader means that much more when the silence drags on for weeks. . .and weeks. . .and weeks.
This morning at church two people told me they were reading my books. Last week, my grandson, who's on vacation, sent me this picture of one of my "children" residing in a home hundreds of miles across the country. My new release has five reviews already! That's all it takes. Just the validation--not a word I'm fond of, but it fits--that somewhere out there, those words I poured onto virtual paper are coming to life in the minds of readers.

Moral to this post--reward your authors by breaking the silence. Don't take it for granted that they know you like their work. Don't assume they won't care what you have to say. Write a review, or if you're not a reviewer, send them a message on Facebook or an email. Whether your favorites are household name bestsellers or yet to be heard of indies, if they're still breathing, they're waiting to hear from you.

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