So I have this dream that one day I will be walking through some airport and will see my book in someone’s hand as she sits and reads until it is time to board. Now, this is a terribly impractical dream as I haven’t yet (like that optimistic yet) written a book that really lends itself to airplane travel but a girl can dream, right? Anyway, I had an almost as good as the airplane gate moment the other day.
I was walking up to the library to return a book and check out another when I noticed that a man, probably about my age, was sitting on the bench in front of the library and seemed to be trying to place me. I assessed him, nope, don’t know him, and figured he’d come to that same realization as I got a bit closer. Instead, he slammed his hand on his knee and said, “I just read your book for the second time last week.”
You can imagine that seeing this unknown 35 year old white man profess to reading my book for the second time was a bit of surprise.
“My book?” I asked.
“Yes, your book,” he answered definitely. Nonetheless, I am scouring my brain to try and figure out who he thinks I am because he obviously has me mixed up with someone else in town and there are enough writers in our town (although the Latina element in this puzzle is a complicating one) that it’s possible.
“It came out about three years ago, right?” He asks and I nod.
“Some friends told me I just had to buy it, and I thought, ‘but this book isn’t for a man’ but I bought it anyway and I read it and it is so good. And last weekend when I was looking for a book to read and saw it on the shelf, I decided to read it again. You’re a great writer.”
Startled, I thank him and then introduce myself before shuffling into the library with a little boost of pride.
Writers live in such vaccums. We don’t have co-workers who can tell us “atta girl” really and so we just have to count on our self-assessment that we’ve done decent work, the occassional ‘good job’ from an editor who is drowing under so much work that they don’t really have time to layer on praise in between constructive feedback, and the very vague, “I saw your article in such and such” that a neighbor will scream to you at the grocery store that you have no idea how to answer because it is just a fact and not a compliment or criticism. So we jar up the emails and comments we get from readers to know that we’re headed in the right direction and when something like the unknown man greets you at the library, we especially relish it. I don’t know that the airport scene I envision will ever happen so I’ll settle for the guy at the library in my town who is so not my target audience, and yet liked the book because I think it probably feels pretty similar even without the backdrop of 737s.