Tomorrow is my one year anniversary on Red Room. Thanks to fellow Red Roomer, David Henry Sterry, who, after helping me with the pitch for my forthcoming novel, The Memory Box, urged me to start blogging on Red Room. And so I did, albeit slowly at first. It was both exhilarating and terrifying to find a place to see my words instantly published. Yikes. Pressing that red Save button was not easy. Who are these Red Room people? What if they don’t get me? What if they don’t like me? That’s the thing about writing after all, isn’t it? Not everyone will get you. Not everyone will like you. So I posted a few blogs. No response. Very little traffic. What am I doing wrong? How can I get better at this? I reached out to others by reading and commenting. Then one day as I roamed around the site, I noticed Red Room Editors Picks. I clicked on the arrow to see what blog posts were recommended and who, to my surprise, did I see? Me! And my story on the chef who cooked his wife.
Months have passed and I'm thrilled to say I've met many wonderfully inspiring, generous, gifted writers; I've received affirming and insightful comments and thousands of views on my blog. I've learned to be a better writer, but almost more importantly, I've learned to be a better reader. An appreciative reader. After all, most writers don't write to talk to themselves (unless they're J.D. Salinger). We write with the intention of having readers. We write with the ambition of moving and affecting a reader. But how do we know if we've accomplished this? Through the generosity of feedback, whether it's in the form of comments, reviews, referrals, tweets, shares, or emails. There are so many ways to connect with an author these days.
Today, as I wrote this, I thought about a book I read recently that deeply moved me. It motivated me to go back to my WIP and start over. Write better. I was at a self-inflicted stalemate with my novel. I kept asking myself, "What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? I had no idea. After reading White Oleander I knew what I was missing; I knew what I needed to do, and I was never more excited to re-edit my manuscript. I believe I was fated to read that book, and I wrote about it in a post titled, The Books You're Fated to Read.
But I made a very big mistake. I never told the author, Janet Fitch, about how her book spoke to me. How could I not have reached out to her? Especially knowing, as a writer, how it feels when someone tells me they had a connection with my writing. Well, I corrected that mistake this morning and wrote to Janet Fitch. I also sent her my story The Books You're Fated to Read, which was inspired by finding and reading White Oleander.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to all my fellow Red Roomers who've read my work and especially to those who have reached out by way of commenting. I've learned from you, one of the most important responsibilities of a writer, to be generous to those writers whose words move, inspire, affect in some way and to remember that sometimes, writers may be one comment away from quitting. Feedback makes a difference; it gives a writer recognition and the boost of encouragement they may need to keep at it. In our all too quiet world, it's a voice back.