Monday, August 8, 2016

A Writer's Legacy

You're invited to do a guest spot, or maybe you're asked to write several posts for your book tour. Instantly, doubts slaps you in the face. Your heart pounds. Your stomach lurches. Maybe not quite that dramatic but you still worry: What will I write about? I have nothing to say, nothing worth reading. I'll make a fool of myself. Or worse, I bore everyone to tears. What can I possibly say that's never been said before? Who am I to tell anyone anything about writing? Nothing--I know nothing!

Really?

You're writer. You've learned a thing or two.

Let me tell you a story...

The Prince George Regional Library invited me to do an evening reading. For two days prior, I spent my usual time in the washroom vomiting. I dragged my husband away from the NHL playoffs so I wouldn't have to face them alone. After the reading, a mother and daughter approached. I could see that the girl was nervous. Her mother kept whispering in her ear and patting her on the back until finally they were next in line.

"Hi," the teenager squeaked.

"She loved your book," the mum said.

The girl blushed. I gave her my best motherly smile.

She stuttered, "I-I loved your book. I-I always wanted to be a writer, but I-I'm just a small town girl. Real writers live in big cities like Montreal and Toronto. They don't live in Prince George. Then I heard you on the radio. I read your book in two days; I loved Valerie. Now I read your blog. You explain stuff I never understood in school. And you live here! Thank you, Mrs. Butler. If you can live here and write about characters who live here, then I know I can too."

That was eight years ago. I think about that young woman often. She'd be about twenty-three. I don't know if she's still reading my blog, but sometimes I write specifically for her.

Please don't under estimate the power of your words. You may have already met the equivalent of this young woman, or maybe not. But know that even if she's never been brave enough to leave a comment, send a personal email, or show up at a reading, it doesn't mean she's not paying attention to every word you write.



29 comments:

Em-Musing said...

Inspiring post. Thanks.

Jean Davis said...

Great post. We never know how many people we influence.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, what a story. I'm sure she remembers you well.

Juneta Key said...

Great Post and encouraging advice.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Christine Rains said...

Amazing. Those moments are priceless. You are an inspiration!

Bish Denham said...

So true. You never know who will be affected by your words and deeds. It's sweet that you've kept her in mind when you write.

Valerie Capps said...

One of the best things about IWSG is that I always take away something important that helps me with my insecurities. I was like that teen, except I'm from a small midwestern town. My encouragement came from my English teacher. I have never forgotten him. How wonderful you were able to do the same for that girl. Trust me, she has never forgotten you.

Chemist Ken said...

I can only imagine how good that felt. Thanks for the post.

Pat Hatt said...

That is a great feeling indeed. Had some kids say they enjoyed a few of mine out of the blue, who knew.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That story is so touching and inspiring. I would pull that moment out of memory and relive it all the time.

Jemi Fraser said...

You gave me chills! Love it!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I had a moment like that. It makes what we do all worth it.

cleemckenzie said...

Knowing that young people are going to read my books (if I'm lucky) makes me feel very "responsible." Advice from well-known writers is to write as if no one is going to read those words, but then I meet readers and I'm suddenly thinking about how what I set down could affect them.

Lovely moment for you and how wonderful that it still affects what you do in your writing.

Lynn La Vita said...

What a lovely story. I could feel your anxiety and sense the young teen's trepidation.

I've noticed when I take the focus off my insecurities and encourage another, does wonders for both us.

Thanks for hosting IWSG. BTW the cyber cookies were yummy.

diedre Knight said...

Now that's the kind of encounter that makes a writer's heart soar, isn't it? I'm sure the young woman will never, ever forget you!

Patricia Stoltey said...

What a wonderful moment! I can see why you think about it often. We never know who we're going to reach when we put ourselves out there.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

I'm en-heartened for you! That's beautiful validation that your story has reached out and touched someone.

Lynda R Young said...

Beautiful, Joylene. It's those moments that remind us our voice is worth putting out there. We never know who will read it/listen to it and gain inspiration from it.

Michelle Wallace said...

What a heart-warming story, Joylene!
It proves that you ARE making a difference. You just never know where and when...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - exactly as you describe ... we all inspire in our small way - some look askance, some will wonder, some will try, others will pick up snippets and store them for future use.

From starting out - we can expand to writing articles for a magazine, a paper, a local newsletter, to actually giving talks and opening up our own worlds ...

That's a great story - I do hope at some stage you can catch up with her ... cheers Hilary

Feather Stone said...

Hi Joylene: I get the impression from my friends that they're quite thrilled to personally know an author, moi. When they introduce me to their friends they always mention that I'm an author. Hey, sometimes I'm amazed that I am a published author. You have truly given a special gift to that little girl, opened her eyes and mind to greater possibilities. Blessings

Jennifer Williams-Fields said...

At one point (as a young girl and young adult) I also believed that "real writers" lived in big cities and travelled the world and had fabulous experiences. And, for many years I let that belief stop me. I'm embarrassed to admit that even now, I at times let that belief stop me. Thanks for the reminder tonight that real writers come from all walks of life and in all types of cities and towns.

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

What a wonderful story, and such a lovely moment that neither of you will ever forget! It's that human connection that makes it all worthwhile.

Sandee said...

Words are indeed powerful. Sometimes we never know they are and sometimes, like this young girl, you do.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Fundy Blue said...

What a wonderful post, Jolene! Thanks for sharing this encouraging story!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

@ Em-Musing - thank you for visiting.
@ Jean - so true.
@ Alex - thanks, Captain
@ Juneta - thanks, Juneta.
@ Christine - thanks.
@ Bish - thanks.
@ Valerie - I was that small town girl, too.
@ Ken - thank you for visiting.
@ Pat - That's great to hear.
@ Susan - I will. Thanks.
@ Jemi - thank you. Love to hear that.
@ Diane - I'm not surprise. You make many authors happy.
@ Lee - I'm with you. We have to be responsible.
@ Lynn - so true, my friend.
@ Diedre - I hope you're right. Thanks.
@ Patricia - very true. Thank you.
@ Morgan - thanks.
@ Lyn - so true. Thank you.
@ Michelle - that's right. Thanks.
@ Hilary - that would be nice. Thanks.
@ Judy - thank you.
@ Jennifer - you're welcome. Thanks.
@ Lori - I agree. Thanks.
@ Sandee - thank you.
@ Fundy Blue - you're welcome.


Toinette Thomas said...

Very inspiring and timely, for me. Thank you.

Deniz Bevan said...

Wow, what an inspiration. I know exactly how that young girl felt! How neat that you still sometimes write for her :-)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thank you, Toinette and Deniz for visiting. Being part of IWSG has been a real inspiration for me.