Sunday, August 13, 2017
Surprise Attitude Adjustment
Last week’s shopping trip left me feeling elated and deeply satisfied. Now if you know me that is quite a statement! Unlike many women, shopping for anything other than books, is not my favourite thing to do—not even weekly grocery shopping. However last week turned out to be quite different. This week I had an identical experience—all the more exciting because of the two happening barely a week apart.
Last week I had walked past the meat department and had rounded the corner past the laundry detergents. I was headed for the baking goods when the new clerk behind the meat counter came rushing up to me.
“Ruth?” she smiled with delight and assurance.
I wondered how she knew me and what she was so excited about.
“You don’t know me. I am a friend of Mike and Sarah’s and I just started working here. Sarah let me read your book that she bought several years ago and I just love it. I laughed and cried through it and was so sorry when it ended. I could have kept reading if it was twice as long.
Sarah said it was you when you passed by and I wanted to come tell you how much I loved your book.”
“You’ve written more than one book?” she asked with eyes aglow. “I’m sorry, I can’t remember the title. I just know that I almost lived in the story as I was reading it.”
That statement of her inability to remember the title was rather comforting to me, for much as I enjoy stories I read, I often am ashamed to admit that I can’t remember the title either. Sometimes even the author’s name escapes my mind.
Once we had established that it was my first novel, Not Easily Broken, I informed this excited and affirming reader that there was a sequel.
“Oh-hh! Where can I get it?”
“I have one in my van right outside the store. If you’d like one, I’ll bring it in to you when I take my groceries out.”
I finished my shopping and as I promised, brought the book to her. She thanked me profusely.
“I took Not Far from the Tree home last week and I kept reading for a full day and into the night to finish it. Again, I laughed and cried and lived with the characters until the book was finished. You have a way of writing that takes you right into the setting and makes it feel so real. I felt as though I was living right with them. Could I get one of the first books from you so I have a matching set? I just love your books! ”
Somehow the chore of shopping felt much lighter this week. I came out of the store smiling and I’m still basking in the glow of knowing that someone enjoyed what I had written.
Not Far from the Tree was based on Freda, a wonderful woman who became my dear friend when she was in her nineties. Not Easily Broken was based on her mother's life. Freda had a real sense of humour and a genuine interest in people. I feel quite confident that she would have been pleased to know her life story and that of her mother meant so much to this reader and many more. She may even have been pleasantly surprised that her life could be that inspiring to much younger readers. We do not know what influence our lives have on others.
Nor do we, as writers often know what effect our writing has on people . Getting occasional feedback like I received can renew our passion and give us new vision for continuing to tell stories.
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