Friday, June 13, 2014

Why it Matters

A few weeks ago, I posted to a local arts list about a free podcast of a short story of mine. The story, The Verdant Gene, is science fiction and part of the Fiction River: Moonscapes anthology. I was very pleased that the publishers decided to feature my story that week, as they had a great selection of stories from which to pick.

A day or so later, a fellow I know slightly wrote to tell me that he had loved the story and that it was “first rate.”


I actually got tears in my eyes. Isn’t that silly?

It was kind of him to take the time to let me know what he thought. We probably wouldn’t know each other if we passed each other on the street, so he needn’t have said anything and I would never have known that he had listened to the story, let alone whether or not he liked it. But he made a point of telling me that he had liked it, and why. That’s true generosity.

Maybe his compliment meant so much to me BECAUSE we don’t really know each other. Does that make sense? Of course your mom will tell you she loves your stories. And co-workers and friends. I mean, what else are they going to say? But when someone you don’t know (or barely know) makes the effort to tell you they liked your story—wow. It matters.

Readers have no idea what power they wield. One sincere compliment can make your month. (And when you’re 60,000 words into your latest novel and they all seem like crap, that compliment can help keep your butt in the chair.)

So, Dear Reader, have you ever told a writer that you enjoyed her story? Why or why not? And writers, do you react differently to a compliment from someone you know, versus someone you don’t?
 
Oh, and if you like great short stories, in all genres, check out the WMG Publishing series of themed anthologies. Highly recommended.

12 comments:

Joe Mahoney said...

Definitely a good thing, compliments. Thanks for the reminder to get out there and compliment more. A compliment on a bad day can turn a person right around. A free and enormously effective way to pick a person up if the compliment is sincere with no strings attached.

Kristene Perron said...

As a reader, I try to let authors know when I liked their story or book. I have to admit, however, that I do this more for new writers or for those that I know. If I see a book with 200 reviews on Goodreads, I don't feel as if my voice is necessary. Maybe that's not a great policy but my time is limited so I'd rather save it for praising those who need the biggest boost.

As an author, all compliments are welcome but there is something really special about hearing from a reader you do not know. It's a kind of validation you just can't get from friends or family.

Rebecca Bates said...

So right, Marcelle! A great reminder!

Shirley Wells said...

I love, love, love getting readers' emails. It always makes my day. I know family and friends will say they love my books but when a complete stranger takes the time to write, it's a wonderful feeling - especially when you're staring at 60,000 words that are complete dross. :)

Cathy Perkins said...

Congrats on the short story inclusion, Marcelle!

And I'll echo your thanks to every reader who took the time to say a positive word. Many authors are like your and me, juggling a day job and a basket of other balls.

On a day when three new projects hit my desk, the bank abruptly changes its loan policy and demands another round of papers, the deer eat the seedlings' new growth, meaning I have to replant 50 trees, and the dog throws up on the rug (and you really don't want to know what she ate) a comment from a reader saying they loved the characters or the plot or that the setting reminded them of home keeps me in front of my laptop late at night, spinning another tale.

Marcelle Dubé said...

You're right, Joe. A sincere, no-strings-attached compliment can do wonders.

Kristene, I have to admit that I feel the same way.

Thanks, Rebecca!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Funny how that equation works, eh, Shirley?

Thanks, Cathy. You must be one of those people who become more efficent as the work piles on!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, those reader emails when I'm stuck in the drudges of another story are SO uplifting! It's almost as if the universe knows I need a boost. As a reader, I was always shy about approaching/emailing authors, but now that I'm published, I know how encouraging it can be. If I truly admire someone's work, I let them know when I can.

Kathy Ivan said...

Those moments when you get that e-mail from a stranger saying how your story touched them, or how much they loved reading it . . . those are the best ever. Readers can sometimes be intimidated and thinks authors don't care about them, but nothing could be further from the truth. We want to hear from readers. After all, we are writing the books for THEM.

Great post.

Elise Warner said...

A compliment can really make your day and encourage a writer to stay in her chair an extra amount of time. And the best come from readers who don't know you but love your writing and take the time to tell you. Loved the post.

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, You really struck a chord with this blog. Yes, yes, and yes, compliments matter--about your hair, about your skin, about your dress and most of all, about your book. That's your love baby. Praise for it sends you to the moon.

Someone recently wrote--and sent by snail mail--a letter saying how much she enjoyed Designed for Death, but only had one complaint: Why didn't Rossi kiss Deva at the end? I loved her comment because it signaled that she had read the book to the very end, so she must have been engrossed in it. Either that or she only read the last page. But . . . I'm always positive on Friday the 13th. Cheers to all.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Anne Marie, Kathy, Elise, Jean: Thanks for dropping by and sharing!