Sweet Bonus

What was especially cool about the book launch party yesterday was seeing the effect of my work on other people. I am not a person who listens to others read. I don’t have strong aural learning aptitude, and I tend to lose track of things, conversations, in which I’m not directly involved. It made school difficult at times.

But most people DO get a lot from hearing something. When my friend Lois hears music, she’s completely involved, and when she sings and plays she KNOWS what she’s hearing. For me, even though I studied piano for more than 10 years, it always felt kind like good luck if I got things right. I love music and listen to it almost all the time, but not with the intensity or immersion that Lois can — and does.

Words on a page are VERY evocative to me, and I was most worried about crying as I read, so I practiced a lot to kind of desensitize myself to the story. I managed it. I used the remedy of looking at the people listening to me as much as I could because what I was doing was for THEM.

A magical result of it was that my reading inspired two people. One, came and sat down beside me and told me the story of her childhood in Germany as an Army kid when the Berlin Wall was built. Fascinating. The other, who’s traveled a lot, said, “I always write down what I do when I travel, in a notebook, just for that trip, hmmm…” she was thinking out loud to me.

I said, “Yeah, we’re at the time of life when we learn how stories turn out.”

She thought I meant death, but I told her, “No, not that, but I mean I couldn’t have written Baby Duck until now. I didn’t know enough.” Then she understood. Who knows? Maybe she’ll write her stories. I think it’s very cool that a couple of chapters of Baby Duck inspired people to think of their own stories.

As a writer, I haven’t done a reading of my work like this before. Until it was in progress, I didn’t have any sense of the what it might mean or how great it is to meet readers, to share the book with readers and to see how the book kind of living on its own. So many books I’ve read have affected me, inspired me, made me think — and my book has done that. I’m so happy.

15 thoughts on “Sweet Bonus

  1. Such an encouraging response to your work, Martha. Congratulations again! The ability to provoke such responses in people is a great indication of the quality of your writing and it’s ability to strike a chord with others. It must have made you feel so proud, a feeling well deserved. Baby duck is clearly a great connector. πŸ™‚

    • It’s the whole point, but I had to be with others to see. We think of writing as a very solitary thing, and it is. You can’t really do it at parties, and it’s easy to forget, or (as in my case) not be fully aware of what what our work might be to a reader. πŸ™‚

  2. A purpose of such a launch party is the inspiration and connection that people take from you and your book. What a great success you have had — and, combined with the interview, you have launched Baby Duck most wonderfully!

  3. Soak it up, Martha! And soon, I imagine, you’ll begin receiving emails from strangers who have read your book and want to thank you for writing it. For years I attended book presentations at one of the larger book stores in the Seattle area if I was interested in the book or author. I never thought much about the impact of the reading – of the audience – on the author until I published my own book and started giving readings. That reader engagement and feedback is so affirming! It makes all the toil worthwhile. I was grinning ear-to-ear each time. Who cares how many copies sell? If one reader tells you they can relate, or you’ve changed their life in some way, you’ve struck gold. I’m almost six years post-publication, and I still get those random emails. Priceless. Enjoy!

    • Thank you! I completely agree — I had an experience with Martin of Gfenn — my first novel — that opened my eyes a bit. I loaned it to my neighbor, she brought it back and before she handed it to me, she held it to her heart and said, “Oh I loved it.” I was stunned and figured I’d just hit the jackpot. But yesterday was, as you say, “affirming” in a way I didn’t expect.

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