Monday, April 09, 2007

Reader Mail

Often when I get letters or emails from readers thanking me for my work, they say "this probably isn't important to you" or "I'm sure you hear this all the time, so it makes no difference." Let me say this clearly: it IS important to me and it makes a HUGE difference. Like most or probably all writers, I have times when I am tortured with self-doubt and I agonize over whether I have wasted my life or if I am doing the right thing or if I should be writing something more profound than fairy tales. When readers tell me that my stories have helped them through a dark time or refreshed their souls or made them happy, I am elated. It's not enough to write for prizes or money, though these things can be nice in themselves. Einstein said, "only a life lived for others is worthwhile." And Victor Frankl, the great psychologist and survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, concluded that ultimately we need to know that what we do has meaning. So to every reader who thanks me, I say thank you.

7 comments:

Pomona said...

I remember reading once, a long time ago, a quote from Susan Cooper to the effect that she writes for herself and nobody else. I've always felt keenly disappointed by that statement. The relationship between a writer and a reader is a complicated one, certainly. When you read an author's work, it's like you're absorbing part of them into you. Consequently, you feel that you know them on an intimate level. The bizarre thing is that they know nothing about you. They don't know where you live, what you had for breakfast, or why their books touched them in a profound way. All they get is a gushing fan letter that can never do justice to that poignant connection. That's why I feel authors can (and should) write with the idea of joining that secret place inside themselves to other kindred spirits. Because if I were going to give out pieces of myself, I'd want to make sure they were in good hands.

Perhaps blogs like this one are the first step to breaking down that unbreachable wall between writer and reader. The fact that I'm now able to share my thoughts and feelings with a writer I've always admired still amazes me.

Amanda McGarry said...

Is there a date that The Light Bare's Daugther will be released in the U.S.? Just wondering because it feels like forever that I've been waiting to read that book!

OR Melling said...

Hmm, I feel the need to explain Susan Cooper (whose work I love as I know you do also). I would say the same thing, i.e. when I am writing I do not think of an audience nor am I trying to please anyone but myself. This is essential for some writers, how we keep the work true and keep out commercial or popular influences. The relationship with the reader comes later, after the work is finished and has gone out into the world. Then it truly is wonderful to find that others value it. I have no doubt that Susan Cooper would agree with this.

OR Melling said...

Oh, and Amanda the pub date for The Light-Bearer's Daughter is May 1st (Bealtaine, a magical Faerie festival time and one of the Celtic quarter days). I've seen an advance copy. It is golden and shimmery, utterly beautiful.

Pomona said...

Well, that I can agree with. I guess I always took it to mean she didn't really care what her readers thought one way or the other. And I do lover her. I just finished reading her latest novel, Victory, and it was fantastic.

deeshedee said...

I'm really glad you did this post. I've always felt a little awkward saying anything here. For me..they will always be..stories to get me up a big hill.

Lindsey Freitas said...

I'm glad you said this, I feel the same way about writing authors - slightly intimidated. :-)

I have read "The Summer King" and "The Light-Bearer's Daughter" and am now reading "The Hunter's Moon". I am enjoying these books so much! I'm 24 and I feel these books are ageless. :-)

I'm very glad these books are being published in the US now. I actually requested "The Light-Bearer's Daughter" to review for www.bookloons.com and am working on the review right now. I just wanted to tell you that I am in love with your Ireland and Faerie and the way you write really inspires me. I also love the fact that you include the Irish language throughout, it really gives your books a wonderful atmosphere!

Lindsey :-)