No, not the choice, not the thing delivered onto the page. This is the right word offered to a needy writer at the right time.
I’ve been lucky. In the past few weeks, two friend-readers finished the most recent work, offering me gifts of reactions as wonderful as I might have hoped (thank you, Mary, and thank you, Donna.) Then yesterday—a day that, as friend-reader Jo Bryant observed—as I was laying low from blogging but not from writing, came another right-reaction-at-the-right time.
Canadian Susan Rocan is a writer of YA fiction. A crafter. A writer who works with special needs children and talks with schoolchildren about writing. A reader who reads like a writer. And it was this writer’s eye that she applied to The Spiritkeeper.
A pivotal moment for any writer, I’m guessing, is when she realizes that a reader is taking away the writer’s exact intent of creation. Susan did that big-time. Her reaction to the characters (“I adore your writing style and the way your characters are so alive they practically jump off the page”), to the love scene, to the haven’t-seen-this-subject-presented-in-quite-this-way approach that drives the plot: all, observations that could not have been more spot-on if I had scripted them. And all at the right time.
A new book is a leap of faith. And the view from the cliff’s edge is a scary one. In this work, as in the last two, the entire premise is balanced upon a suspension of disbelief…perhaps in this new work most of all. The new work is based in a real-world cultural phenomenon, with a major left-hand twist. The moment the reader says “preposterous”, the deal is off; and yet, the book cannot exist without it. That twist is the reason for the book’s being. We are Tinkerbelles in our heads: Without the applause, we die.
David Byrne observed, with endearing candor, that artists have big egos. I suppose that’s true, even for those of us who try to bury ours under the tonnage of frailty and ever-striving vulnerability that is who we really are. As she faces down the insecurities of a new undertaking, the writer believes that she can muscle even a dicey premise past objections by sheer force of ability and will. She hopes that the story will not collapse in on itself like the house of cards that any new idea is. And she hopes the reader will feel for her work what she has felt.
In this hope, one is even more grateful for the support of those who read and approve. This shoring-up, this buttressing, of any writer’s self-worth is an invaluable thing, as much an act of faith as the writing is.
So thank you, Susan. Thank you, Mary. Thank you, Donna. Thank you, you who are yet to get back to me. For wading through X-hundred pages, for the encouragement, for the praise, thank you. Words never found a more grateful ear. Approval never came to anyone at a better time.