Recently, I have begun using my author appearances as an opportunity to encourage people to write. I still talk about my books, tell amusing stories from my life, answer questions from the audience, and try to avoid actually reading from my books (the one aspect of author appearances that I do not enjoy).
But somewhere in there, I take a moment to urge the audience members to write.
Sometimes I cajole. Sometimes I plead. Sometimes I admonish. A couple of times I’ve been downright mean about it. I never really know what I am going to say at one of these appearances until my mouth gets moving, but I always try to send the message that everyone, regardless of age, experience or ability, should be writing something.
And I always conclude by asking that if someone begins writing, he or she let me know about it. While I would love for the people who attend these events to read and love my books (and purchase them in bushels), I would almost prefer that they just go home and start writing.
Apparently they have. Or at least one person has.
During last spring’s Books on the Nightstand retreat in Vermont, I decided, on whim, to avoid talking about my books altogether in favor of taking a moment to urge the sizable audience to write. It may have been the first time I actually made this appeal to an audience, and I was happy that I did.
Earlier this week, a reader named Heather contacted me about an NPR story that had reminded her of Martin, the protagonist in Something Missing (I’ll share this interesting insight in a future post). After exchanging emails, I learned that she had attended the Books on the Nightstand retreat last spring and had taken my appeal to begin writing to heart.
Beginning on May 27th of this year, she began writing a blog called the One Thousand Words Project, where she attempts to write 1,000 words a day on a topic of her choice.
Her first post explains the genesis of the idea and the rules that she has assigned herself, and I must say that she has not made the process an easy one.
It’s quite impressive.
I spent some time reading her blog this morning and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Her writing is clear, insightful, compelling, and most important, she’s writing! Everyday!
She is writing fiction as well, and from the process that she has described to me through her emails, it sounds as if she is well on her way to beginning her first novel.
I could not be more thrilled.
It sounds silly to say that something like this is comparable to publishing my own novels, but it almost is. While decidedly less profitable than selling my own writing, I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to discover someone writing because of something I said.
And to be writing so well.
Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, always looking to encourage people and utilize their talents.
More likely it’s my terrified-of-death/need-to-leave-my-mark-on-the-world desire being satisfied in a small but extremely meaningful way.
Or maybe it’s my narcissistic tendencies bubbling to my admittedly shallow surface, hoping that Heather will hit the bestseller list someday and attribute a small margin of her success to me.
Maybe even decide to become my patron and fund my future as a writer.
Whatever the reason, I encourage you to visit Heather’s One Thousand Words Project and see what she has to say.
Even if I never profit from her efforts, I couldn’t be more happy and excited for her and the work that she is doing.