Being a writer is sometimes difficult. There are times when you sit at your writing desk and stare at your screen. No typing; just staring. The white blank page becomes a dark scary place with an evil black cursor blinking back at you, daring you to write something worth reading. It’s like being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean, with no paddles, hungry sharks are circling and no matter where your eyes focus, you see nothing. No land. No help. No words. Your inner voice is stalled. The fear envelopes you. You can’t think and you can’t write. Not one single word. And, if by some miracle you find it in yourself to write a sentence or two, five minutes later you are hitting the delete button. You are right back at the beginning: the blank screen, with criticizing readers circling, waiting to attack you with negative feedback. This is when you think about giving up. It would be so much easier. Maybe, you weren’t meant to be a writer?
And then, something like this happens…
During the past three weeks, I have received four emails, two Facebook inbox messages and one phone call, all from complete strangers. They tracked me down through various means, finding my name in the phone book or simply by googling my name and contacting me through my website. Each and every one of these strangers wanted to thank me for writing a story I wrote over a year ago. They were so inspired by my writing; they wanted to know where they could read more of my work.
At first, I imagined my husband pranking me somehow, by hiring some strangers to call me or contact me, because he knew I was struggling with my lack of confidence in my writing. Seriously, I was about to give up and walk away from my writing life and figured this was his sly way of getting me back to tapping at my keyboard, so he could watch sports in peace. I really couldn’t believe it was anything more than a joke or some spam messages.
I decided to respond to each person with a personal note. They all responded back to me. I found out, that because it was Christmas, these strangers were reading a true story I wrote about my children and the difficulty we face with having a blended family during the holiday season. In many families, kids are pulled in multiple directions during holidays, because of divorces, remarriages, and custody battles, etc. I’m a strong believer in not adding more pressure to my kid’s lives, by making them choose between two parent’s houses and various other celebrations going on during the Christmas season. Our family makes the best of the time we have together, even if we only have a few hours. These strangers were relating their lives to mine, telling me I inspired them to share the story with other people in their families who were experiencing the same difficulty, and to remind them, it’s the kids that matter most and the kids should/need to come first.
Well, I’ve been wearing a smile for three solid weeks now, knowing that someone (actually there are seven someones) appreciated the time I spent writing something. I am now back writing my novel, trying not to think about what others will think of it. I’ll save that worrying for later. It’s so nice to know that a simple thank you from a stranger can change everything.
In the meantime, I have thought about the books I’ve been reading lately. Some of these authors are so inspiring to me. They are motivating me to write my own words. So, to pay it forward, I have sent thank you notes to ten authors over the Christmas break, thanking them and acknowledging their efforts in producing a fine piece of literature and for entertaining me for hours with their writing… and guess what? They have all responded enthusiastically. Most of them say I made their day. They are smiling and beaming. This makes me happy.
So, what are you waiting for?
It’s time to be someone else’s stranger… go send a small thank you note to one of your favourite authors today. I guarantee they will appreciate your shout out. If you feel sheepish sending a personal note, the next best way to thank an author, is to write a review of their book. Don’t be afraid to tell others about a book you fell in love with. Believe me, the author will see your review and it will also make them smile.
This world needs more writers who are smiling, and more strangers handing out a simple thank you… remember, it can change EVERYTHING.