There are so many reasons for writing. For me, I take pleasure in design for the sake of design. The perfect melding–or even if not perfect, the interesting melding–of various materials into a shape that catches the eye of the mind as the words flare during the process of interpretation and become fireworks, emotional surges, and flashes of insight, in a reader’s imagination as well as my own.
But there are other reasons beyond design itself. Many reasons. I was reminded of one last night, after coming home from the latest event I put on for the Ytown Reading Series with my students. This message was waiting for me in my inbox:
After hearing about the Nebula nomination, I went out and bought your book for my Kindle.
I’m about 60% through it and wanted to tell you I’m really enjoying it. It wasn’t what I expected (the SF ghetto tends to follow certain rules), but I have been very pleasantly surprised. After I’m done reading it, I’ll probably read it to my wife. I hope that isn’t a problem.
Normally my wife would get the Audible edition, but it doesn’t look like there’s a audible version for me to buy for her. So she’ll get me, instead.
I’m always touched to hear from readers who have enjoyed, appreciated, or found something they were looking for, sometimes desperately, in one of my stories or books. And each time I hear from them, I’m reminded of what else writing is inherently about: other people.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of writing for one’s self. I do that when I’m fascinated in the process of writing as a reader myself. Writing as a reader is something I do. I’m often telling myself stories as I write, experiencing the act of writing as a reader, existing in dual levels of the process at the same time, making and interpreting as I create. But it’s other people, not just myself, that will hopefully, eventually, read what I’ve made. And hopefully will find something they’ve wanted or craved or needed, even without knowing it, when they do read what I’ve written. Those are the kinds of books I love most, to be surprised that I wanted something without realizing what it is I’ve thirsted for.
I try not to be materialistic: to not seek after the fame and the riches, to not be jealous or envious of those who are rewarded richly in publicity and recognition and money for their writing. But reading over this reader’s message today, after being reminded of the importance of connecting with others through my work, I also realized that it’s hard to connect without my writing being somehow recognized, as the Nebula nomination lead him to seek out my work, a book he would never have heard of if not for the award. I’ve recently found bloggers and Twitterers talking about my book’s nomination as well. Some had already read it, and exclaimed giddily how happy they were that the book had been nominated for the award. Others confess to the book having eluded their awareness, and after reading it were surprised that it had been so overlooked or unnoticed.
I don’t want to desire recognition or to be known, mainly because I don’t want to be beholden to desire. But I do understand now more than ever that recognitions like the Nebula nomination are how those other people, readers who may be waiting for my words and don’t know that my books even exist, discover my stories and books.
I’m looking forward to discovering more of my readers in the future as well, the people I don’t know exist, who don’t know that I exist yet either. I hope someday that we can be brought together in that space where words fire and flare.