What’s Your Inspiration to Write Book After Book?

By SUE COLETTA

After my book signing on Saturday, October 6th, I was mulling over what to write for my TKZ post today, and this little treasure popped into my inbox. The video is so inspirational, I had to share it with you. It’s about four minutes long. If you’re short on time, not to worry. I’ve explained the video below.

Ray Edward’s thought experiment goes like this. Imagine you’ve been given a treasure. This treasure, like all magical treasures, comes with conditions. Here’s the catch. While this treasure is unlimited, each day you can only take one coin. Just one. And every day you suffer from amnesia. You forget you have this treasure and you lose a day of unlimited value.

What would you do to remind yourself? Would you leave notes for yourself? Would you phone a friend and ask them to remind that you have this treasure? How would you remember not to waste a single day?

Here’s a new flash. You already have this treasure. Consider this your reminder. The treasure you’ve been given is your life. Everyday offers endless possibilities, in life as well as writing. Yet we squander so many days with “Someday, I’ll travel. Someday, I’ll finish the manuscript.” Unfortunately, “someday” is often code for “never.”

Life is a mystery. We didn’t know when we’d enter the world and we don’t know exactly when we’ll depart, but we do know someday our life will end. Each day between now and then is a treasure-trove of limitless value.

What will you do with your treasure? Will you spend your time wisely? Will you use the day to hone your craft to achieve your goals? Will you strive to make your dreams a reality? Or will you use excuses for putting off writing till tomorrow?

Hey, we’re all guilty of procrastination from time to time. The trick is, making our writing a priority. Even though writers spend hours alone with a blinking cursor, the stories we write have the ability to entertain, to bring a smile to the lonely widow or widower’s face, to let the exhausted parent escape for a while, to inspire the aspiring writer to dream without limits, to brighten someone’s day, or even, just keep someone company for a while.

Writers hold great power. So, the next time you don’t feel like writing, remember this. Every day you don’t sit in front of that computer with your hands on the keyboard is a day you’ve let down your readers.

Bold statement, I know, but this truth hit home at my book signing.

A woman stood in front of my table, rambling on and on about the characters in my Grafton County Series. She told me she was never what you’d call an avid reader. A friend recommended my books, and she bought MARRED for the heck of it. Three books later, she’s embarrassed to admit that she considers Sage and Niko Quintano her closest friends. So much so, she desperately misses them in between books. The tears in her eyes as she spoke about how much my characters meant to her touched me on such a deep emotional level, it caught me off-guard.

How could I ever let this woman down?

By the time I got my game face on again, I glanced up to see another woman rushing toward my table. Unbeknownst to me, she’s a long-time fan who brought her three-year-old grandson to meet “her favorite author.” I have no idea what his grandmother told him, but this young boy gawked at me as if I were a superhero. The look in his eyes about shattered my cool façade. All I could think was, I’ll never live up to his view of me. << There’s the ol’ familiar self-doubt again. If only there were a way to silence that voice forever. Sadly, as Laura so eloquently wrote recently, self-doubt and writers go hand-in-hand. Sigh.

When this sweet woman asked for a group photo, I couldn’t form the words to tell her how much it meant to me. It’s a day I’ll never forget. It’s also the driving force (writer crack 🙂 ) that’ll keep me tied to my desk, hour after hour, paragraph after paragraph, scene after scene, till I type The End one more time.

 

So, my beloved TKZ family, let’s share inspiration today. Tell me about an encounter with a reader that renewed your love of writing.

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27 thoughts on “What’s Your Inspiration to Write Book After Book?

  1. Neat, Sue. It really applies to whatever your treasure is.

    I only hope that someday there will be even a few people who find what I write rewarding.

    I keep reminding myself that there are so many readers out there that I don’t need a best seller to have given pleasure to a good number of people. The first twenty pages of my novel (85K words) get workshopped tomorrow night…

    • That’s so true. You don’t need a bestseller to touch someone’s life. Best of luck at the workshop, Eric! I’ll be rooting for you.

  2. I’m in the middle of a month of signings myself and I always approach this with a small sense of dread. Because sometimes, no one shows up. But sometimes, you get a really nice crowd. Then I always have to smack myself for being so darn ungrateful. I get to write for a living. Like you said, you get to affect people, entertain them, maybe even move them.

    My sister and I were signing at a small bookstore in Frankfort, Michigan, over on Lake Michigan. It was cold and rainy and the lovely owner warned us not to expect much. But rainy days have a way of making folks chose their bookstore over the beach. So many great people came in, interacting with the owners, chatting about their grandkids, pets, what books they had read. We had a great time. One old gent came in, and talked to us, but apologized that he never read fiction, and preferred books about politics. He was a lifelong Democrat but had just finished John McCain’s biography, which he called deeply inspiring. I managed to hand-sell him a copy of John Meacham’s “The Soul of America.” 🙂

    We were getting ready to pack it in when a couple rushed in out of the rain. They had just driven all the way from Mackinaw City (about 3 hours north) en route home to Indiana but had heard we were in Frankfort and detoured to see us. They had all our books and wanted to get the new one — signed.

    So yeah, that’s pretty darn inspiring. That’s enough to keep you going.

    • Love that story, Kris! Before each signing dread seeps into me, too. The best part of living in a rural area is, each year I hit the same venues at roughly the same time, so folks learn where I’ll be and when. Every year is better than the year before.

      This summer I added a few new places, and I was blown away by how many people showed. I also created “Name that Serial Killer” game, with gummy body parts as prizes. Nothing beats time spent laughing and having a great time with those who read our books (and even those who don’t). Book signings have been such a rewarding experience. We’re blessed to write for a living.

  3. I had a fan write me from Texas to say that mystery books were an escape while she was recovering from back surgery. She’d been in a great deal of pain, but escaping into a good story relieved her pain. Wow, did I feel 10 miles high and committed to working harder on this next book for this and every reader.

    • Love that, Alec! To touch someone’s life is such a special gift. I’m so glad you’ve honored her note by working harder. Write on, my friend.

  4. I had the good fortune to have a professor of American Indian Literature leave a positive review of my book “Aztec Midnight” on Amazon. It ended with “I’m looking forward to a sequel!”

    Now that was nice.

  5. Since my first novel is currently on pre-order, I don’t have any feedback from readers. However, folks who provided endorsements were so kind in their comments that I can’t wait until the end of the year when I will receive my print copies and can begin the book launch get-togethers and book signings.

    The ability to write is certainly a TREASURE. But I think of it more as a PRIVILEGE. And your blog post is a great reminder to keep going. Thank you!

    • Congratulations on your debut, Kay!!! Those first few appearances can be terrifying. I was lucky to have another author show me the ropes with my debut signing. Most of all, relax and enjoy the experience. Your local audience grows with time. 🙂

  6. So much truth, Sue. We write to communicate and when a reader responds, it’s hugely gratifying.

    My book Instrument of the Devil launched last year right as Hurricane Irma walloped Florida and most of the state had no electricity for a week or more. A reader said my book had helped her pass the time and it took her mind of the miserable conditions she was enduring.

    Another reader at a book club told me she’d been recently widowed (like my main character) and that she immediately identified b/c she experienced many of the same emotions. Five widows had beta-read for me and I used something from each of them to add to the character. And it paid off.

    That connection between writer and reader (whom you may never meet) is a responsibility and a privilege.

  7. Ah, serendipity. This was exactly what I needed this Thanksgiving morning. Thank you Sue.

    And what a great experience with your readers. Can’t imagine how great that must feel. Hope to find out soon. ; )

  8. I love your inspirational articles, Sue, especially this one. As I’ve mentioned already, I really enjoyed your book Hacked . Reading exciting books improves brain function, according to studies (https://jonbarron.org/alzheimers-and-dementia/novels-expand-brain-and-mind). So writers are important people!

    One of the challenges that I face, and I’m wondering if any others here have this issue, is dealing with an aging mom who requires attention during the day (and sometimes at night). Everything is an emergency, if you know what I mean. Of course, since I recently lost my father, I understand more than ever how precious time with loved ones is. I realize that every chat with my mother could be my last. How does a creative person balance his/her own need to create with a parent’s needs?

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, Joanne. I lost both my parents in my teenage years, so dealing with an aging parent sounds like heaven to me. Although, I imagine it must be hard to handle at times. My motto is family first. Take care of your mom while she’s still here. If you can squeeze in time for writing, great. If you can’t, writing will be there when you’re ready. It’s okay to push the pause button once in a while, too. Sometimes we need to remember that, as well. (((hugs)))

      • Joanne, I totally agree with Sue–family first. Been there, done that and hear you about everything being an emergency.

        Is your mom interested in your writing? Can you maybe read some of your work to her? A friend recently pubbed her first book and was able to read it to her father with dementia and ailing mother. Sweet memories for all of them.

        • Writing is one of the few interests that my mother and I have in common, and I’m thankful for everything she taught me about the mechanics of writing when I was small. Unfortunately, she is inconsolable after the death of my father; he was her world. I can’t get her interested in reading or listening to anything, but I like your friend’s idea. My mother used to love watching the sweet movies on the Hallmark Channel, and it’s hard to get her to do that anymore. The only thing she likes to do is chat on the phone, and I try to be as accommodating as I can when she calls. It can be a challenge to find large blocks of time that creativity often demands. Sounds like you’ve been in a similar place before. Thanks for the kind words. *hugs*

      • Sue, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you to lose parents as a teen. *tight hugs* After losing my Dad and realizing the finality of it all, I’ve had to do some soul searching about what’s really important in life. Again, your post was great today, and it really hit home with me.

        • Thanks, Joanne. Your predicament breaks my heart. Losing a parent is never easy, regardless of age. As a teen, the hole they left behind shattered my world. Yet, I did have a few amazing, spiritual experiences that proved (to me, at least) that my parents were still with me, as I’m sure your dad is with you and your mom. <3

          • Someone recommended a book to me, which I haven’t read yet, called Hello From Heaven, which tells of experiences by people who have lost loved ones. I plan to read it. There are times when I feel my father’s presence.

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