Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Drop Them A Line

Have you read a book you truly enjoy recently? A book that made you laugh or cry or think or see the world differently than you saw it before reading the book?

Write the author a note.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just scribble a few lines telling the writer that you read the book and how it affected you. A simple “I enjoyed the book” is plenty.

It makes a difference.

Books create intimacy. Reading is an act of intimacy between the reader and the writer. Something unique is shared in that connection. No two readers, as much as they enjoy the same book, ever experience it in exactly the same way.

Emails are one thing, but sitting down to write a writer an actual note on a postcard or stationery makes a difference. Think of the time it took the writer to write the book. Think of how long it takes you to write a book.

Isn’t it worth the ten minutes of appreciation? And a fun postcard or a sheet of pretty notepaper?

Doesn’t it make a difference to you, as a writer, when a reader you’ve never met sends a note out of the blue, letting you know that your work matters?

Carolyn See talks about writing to writers in her book Making a Literary Life. She calls them “charming notes” and advocates writing one per day, along with four pages of whatever prose you write.

I applaud her encouragement, but I prefer to write the note spontaneously, as I’ve finished the actual book. Sometimes, I need a few days to think about what I’ve just read, and then I write the note. As a reader, it makes me feel that I’m giving something back to a writer who has spent time and love and energy on a project of the heart. As a writer, when I receive such a note (and it usually arrives on a difficult day when I need a bit of cheer), it gives me joy. I’ll keep writing no matter what – but to have a reader acknowledge the connection means I’m not writing in a vaccum.

Take the time. Today, drop the writer a line.

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