The days being busy and long, I've written little, so when I listened to the answering machine Wednesday night, I was unprepared for the news there was a writers meeting the next day. I had nothing to share--not nothing written, just nothing ready or copied to pass out to the group. I went anyway, because I rarely have a chance to gather with friends, and these people are a rowdy bunch, known to laugh too loud in the library or at restaurants. Party animals. (laugh)
One person shared the final chapter of her first book -- whoo hoo! -- another read a short essay she's entering in the latest Guideposts contest, and yet another read the first draft of a poem.
When asked if I had something to share, I dug in my briefcase-like bag and found the small spiral-bound notebook in which I'm writing a short fantasy book for kids, and read the first four or five handwritten pages.
It was well-received, except by one writer. I should know by now: Never read my work unless 1) it is mainstream, or 2) a particular writer is absent. This person has no complaints about my style, characters, dialogue, or the basics of storytelling, just about the subject matter or the fact that I don't dump a bunch of details right at the beginning. My work ends up irritating both of us.
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Several weeks ago, I wandered through the local site of national chain bookstore, and looked for certain titles that I had helped edit in some way, either as a proofreader or as a down-and-gritty, find-all-the-weaknesses-I-can editor. I felt like a stealth contributor to the literary world. Kinda cool.
Yesterday, after working late at the Club, I had to stop by the post office, purchase stamps from the vending machine, and mail forty-five letters out to baseball players. I heard a door open on the other side of the building and then the distinct sound of my mother's footsteps down the row of boxes where she receives her mail. I almost called out to her, but then thought better of it, just in case I was wrong. This is a small town, but--
She cruised around the corner, smiling, and we talked while I stamped envelopes then checked my post office box.
Inside was a key for a parcel box, and inside the box was a package. It had the distinct hard, heavy weight of a book. I flipped it over, and looked at the return address: a writer whose mystery/thriller I'd edited a year or two ago.
He included a letter, but Mom wished he'd signed the book. I'm happy that he's at work on book number two--and you can bet I'll be looking for it on the bookstore shelves.