Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Here’s a thing we writers need to remember

by Rick Blechta

Driving back from a book event I attended this weekend (Limestone Genre Expo), I had plenty of time to reflect on plenty of things.

Sure, I did a lot of scrolling back over what my experience had been, but one small comment from a reader rose to the surface and has stuck in my brain: “About ten years ago I ran across one of your books at during a cottage stay with a friend. She didn’t remember how it had even gotten there but I picked it up on a rainy day and I couldn’t put it down.”

The book in question turned out to be Cemetery of the Nameless. We struck up a more lengthy conversation about some details from the book (she remembered them still!) and I answered as best I could. She also bought a copy of The Fallen One (my recommendation, though she was taken with the cover and probably would have chosen it anyway) and I hope she’s enjoying that story as much as the first.

Now here’s why the conversation has really stuck with me. Putting aside the fact that it’s nice to have one’s ego stroked a bit like that, I have 11 books that are floating around out there. When I put down my pen for the last time, they’ll still be around. Somebody perhaps a hundred years in the future might pick one up, read and enjoy it and wonder who this Blechta character was.

We all tend to live in the here and now and a little in the “not-too-distant future”, but do we often think of ourselves 100 years hence? Of course not. But when we publish books, produce paintings or sculptures, compose music, or do anything artistic or creative, we’re actually making it possible to outlive our mortal timespan.

Now isn’t that a very cool thing to keep in mind when the going is tough?


Sybil Johnson said...

That's really cool that she remembered your book. I think that's what writers strive for, to have someone remember their work.

Rick Blechta said...

On the other side of the coin, I was at a bookstore signing a year or so ago when a woman approached and asked, "Is this your book?" picking up one that had come out a few years earlier. Before I could answer, she added, "I read it. I didn't like it. It wasn't a very good book," then just walked away.

You learn to savour the good moments while trying to forget the bad.

This weekend was a very good moment indeed!

Sybil Johnson said...

Savor the good moments, indeed.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

The remark from the woman who picked up your book at a signing sounds like something someone with a natural mean streak would say for the heck of it, for the enjoyment in slamming somebody. And/or because they've recently been criticized and the hard working author, sitting there proud of their work, is an darned easy target.

Thank heaven for the readers who truly enjoy our books, and tell us so.

Rick Blechta said...

Irene, you're absolutely correct, and the comment didn't make me angry, just said that someone got obvious enjoyment out of being cruel. We all know that there are people out there who are like that. It's part of life.

The nice things that are said to us ink-stained wretches always resonate more than the nasty things.

My best moment as an author? Watching someone obviously enjoying one of my books as we rode on a Toronto subway train. Now that was cool!

Thanks for weighing in!

Eileen Goudge said...

Posterity is a beautiful thing, and one of the perks of being a writer. Our works will survive us. Thanks for reminding us of that, Rick.

Rick Blechta said...

You're more than welcome!