It’s pissing down rain in Seattle. The lecherous wind tugs and young women’s skirts as they tick-tock their high-heeled way to work, and the few who bothered with umbrellas wish they’d left them at home. The sky is locked down in gunmetal grey and the sun is a dim memory, consumed by the overhead drear. It’s already been a long work-week for me, having put in three days’ worth before the end of Day Two, and I haven’t slept well for worrying about my family, still roiling from our matriarch’s recent death.
And yet, inside, I’m sunny.
Yesterday, I received a note. A reader took the time and effort to write to me, telling me how much he enjoyed Beneath a Wounded Sky, and how, for him, it was “Absolutely worth the wait.”
This short note is one of the reasons I write. No, not for the praise; for the feedback. Writing a novel isn’t like blogging. I can’t finish Chapter One and see what sort of stats it’s generated, how many hits its garnered. WordPress doesn’t pop up with a little “award” for how many people “liked” it.
The feedback loop for novels is long. It’s a loop that begins with the idea, then stays open during the many months of writing, the months/years of searching for a publisher, the work of bringing it to print, and agony of waiting to see if any copies are purchased and what sort of reaction readers have. If we were all sitting around our Neolithic fire and I was telling you all a story, I’d know right away if it was holding you. I’d see it in your eyes. The novelist never gets immediate feedback. We get notes from readers. We get reviews on Amazon.
The feedback isn’t always great. Like the… gentleman… who wrote a review of Book IV, which he’d picked up on a whim, and whose main complaint was that it wasn’t Book I. Unfortunately, I am unable to help that… gentleman… especially since he’s absolutely correct. Book IV is not Book I. My apologies.
But other readers (who generally understand that a series of novels rarely begins with Book IV), have been kinder. There haven’t been many who have taken the time to post a note or a review, but there have been some, and I cherish each one as a reinforcing wave.
I write because I like to tell stories. I also write because I like to please readers with those stories.
And so, as I contemplate beginning a new novel, part of me is taking heart from the note I received yesterday, thanking me for the book I began writing in 2008, and another part of me is looking forward to the note I’ll receive from a new reader, delivered to me sometime in the year 2016.
Did you like the last book you read? Go leave a note on the book’s page at Amazon.