Have you loved a writer today?
Writers usually need to write more than they need food or sex. Writers prefer to be writing as much or more than anything in their lives. Writers need the feel of the pen or of the keys on the keyboard in their hand or beneath their fingers. Writers need to be awakened out of a deep sleep with the perfect scene in their mind and to quickly jot it down on the little notepad on their nightstand. Writers need to pull over to the side of the road and quickly describe the idea that flitted through their head at the stop light when the other drivers were concentrating more on their road rage. Writers need to fill the page with their innermost thoughts and dreams and with their emotions and with the fibers of their being.
Writers are afraid: afraid of apostrophes and semi-colons; afraid of misplaced modifiers and dangling participles; afraid of plot, and scene and dialogue. Writers are afraid that: you’ll think them arrogant; you’ll think them contrived; you’ll think them behind the times or too ahead of the times; you’ll just not understand that they wrote that book for you.
Writers are bibliophiles. From a very early age, they love the heft of a book and the fragrance of ink on paper. They can never have enough books. Many can never have enough “office supplies,” which they describe as mandatory to the maintenance of their writing domain but which truly are just tools with which to ply their writing craft: pens, pencils, colored markers, index cards, tablets, notepads, journals and binders of all kinds. Writers I know would rather spend the night at a Barnes & Noble or at an Office Depot in lieu of an evening at the movies followed by dinner at Outback.
If you happen to be a parent of a child writer, you may be responsible for nurturing a future John Steinbeck or a future Toni Morrison! Do your utmost to support that child’s need and desire to write. Provide trips to the library or bookstore. Attend local or regional book fairs. Purchase tickets for a reading by a famed author. Volunteer to help with reading or story hours at your child’s school. Make reading a family activity. Build her a bookcase or build him a desk. Give books or writing tools for Christmas or Hanukkah.
If you are in a relationship with a writer or with someone aspiring to be an author, know that there are times when they simply need to write. They need time to gather their thoughts and then to spill them out onto paper for all the world to see. They need quiet “far from the madding crowd” and from day-to-day rituals and chores, just for awhile. They may need to be behind a locked door or sequestered in an attic or a basement writing area that is their world away from the world.
None of this means that they don’t want to be with you, so please don’t take it that way. Be supportive by walking the dog, feeding the kids dinner, folding the laundry, catching the latest re-run of “Cheers” on TV — or just by being content in your own world until your writer resurfaces for a breath of air.
Probably the best thing that you can do for a writer, young or old, is to love them. You can love an unpublished writer by listening to or reading their latest work and providing helpful critique and affirmation of that precious product of theirs. You can respect their need to write by not treating it as some silly hobby that will pass with time.
Even if there is no writer in your life, if you are a reader you can love a writer today. If you have just finished reading a book that you loved, recommend it to a friend. Post it on Facebook or Tweet it on Twitter. Take a few moments and write a review. Let the writer know why you loved the book. If you didn’t like the book, write a review anyway, but please don’t write a negative review without an explanation. Be honest but be mindful that you are critiquing someone who has tried to put his or her best words on paper for you. If the writer has other books you haven’t read, buy the next one … and the next!
With the advent and the astounding continued growth of e-publishing, many more writers now are becoming published authors. Whether you are a hold-out and still prefer a paper-and-ink book or you are on-board with e-readers and are constantly downloading to your Kindle or your Nook, show your appreciation and love a writer.
I hereby declare today “Love a Writer Day” and I wish you a world of good reading!