Yesterday as I was idly scanning through Twitter while attempting to endure the assault of pre-movie ads at a Regal Cinema*, I came across this little gem:
It hadn't occurred to me until that moment that my book would be playing a bit role in people's Christmas mornings across America or--more meaningfully--that people would actually be excited to receive it. As so often this year--as I trotted around the country hawking my book, as I read (mostly positive) reviews, as I received well-wishes from friends and family--I found myself flush with gratitude.
Writing is not a solo endeavor. It is an act of communication, and isn't whole or complete until someone reads the written words. The meaning exists in trust between reader and writer, and both contribute to that meaning. Once a sentence is put to paper, it begins a life that will only be complete when someone else reads it and it becomes transmuted in her mind. The writer never has the final word; the reader does. The text then goes on to live a separate life outside the control of the author. Whether a book becomes beloved, reviled, or ignored is entirely dependent on public, in the thinking and discussing and considering done in the months or years after publication.
I had two books out this year, and one of them has managed to begin living its separate life. (Cider Made Simple--though I think a book equal in quality if not scope to the Beer Bible--may end up in the "ignored" camp.) The gratitude comes because I see all those lovely readers out there giving it that life.
Thanks thanks thanks thanks--it's been a special year.
*I've basically scrubbed Regal from my life, except on Christmas day, when it's generally the best/only theater option available. Christmas-day movies are, for this Buddhist, a tradition going back two decades.This year it was Star Wars.