I hear authors talk a lot. Most want to communicate something to some group of readers. Some want fame, fortune, esteem, or any of a number of accoutrements that accrue to the few. There are awards, reviews, book signings, great sales, speaking events, and teaching options. What is it that writers would answer to the question, “What would you prefer to see above all return for your writing?”
I’ve thought about that. I’ve been among the fortunate. I’ve had numbers of awards, a few reviews to die for, plenty of book signings, and speaking events. Sales don’t hit the great category, but my genre isn’t something that the general population craves like they do mystery, thriller, and romance novels.
And then I get blindsided. When The SealEaters, 20,000 BC award comments from Grace Cavalieri were read, I heard the line, “America’s preeminent writer of prehistoric history,” and I didn’t hear anything but a great thought in my mind, “What? Surely, I didn’t hear what I thought I heard.” When the review from Midwest Book Review gave my novel series such an awesome, glowing review, I was speechless. Those things carried great meaning to me.
Little did I know that there would be something to top those comments. Something that came out of the blue following a post I wrote letting people know that I’d reached the proofing stage of the novella, Freedom, 250,000 BC: Out From the Shadow of Popocatépetl. Just a routine post. Then a response came that tore my heart out, laid it on the table before me so I could see it falter at the words. I fought to hold back tears. They came anyway. Here’s the comment:
Bonnye Matthewes . what you write is amazing and beautiful, it is the ability of men with a life on our continent unsuspected by millions of people thank you for enriching our human history . I look forward to buy your book when on sale . i can writte a litte english!
—Jonathan Melendez, Valued Reader from Monterrey Nuevo Leon Mexico
That is the whole purpose of writing to me. A writer communicates something to a reader through the written word. It’s such a simple thing. Yet, when confronted with such beautiful communication, I was humbled utterly. “Writte a litte English!” Jonathan Melendez communicated volumes to me in English. I understood in crystal clarity.
Writers are so very responsible for our communication. We do communicate to others. We can affect others in positives or negatives. I had thought that I communicated a story as I write. I also wanted people to realize the wonderful prehistory we have under our feet, but I felt that beyond me. To have it come back so eloquently and concisely touched me at the very pit of my soul. It affected my spirit. It deepened my commitment to realizing with each story I write, I want my words to reach people for the positives. It’s always a stretch. But that will no longer be a hope but will attain goal status before I approve the final for my books. I’ll send the proofed copy of Freedom, 250,000 BC back to the publisher either tonight or tomorrow. I feel it meets the goal I’ve set.
To answer my own question as to what I’d want to see most from my writing, I’d have to say that Jonathan Melendez’s words are the answer. An honest comment from a reader that shows that not only did my writing communicate at the superficial level but also at a deeper lever coupled with the positives. That’s what I most want. It’s not very entrepreneurial, but it’s true. Jonathan Melendez’s words will appear on the back of Freedom, 250,000 BC: Out From the Shadow of Popocatépetl along with the words from Cavalieri and Midwest Book Review. His words complete the awards comments, book review, and reader comment on my writing that I hoped to place on the back cover to help the reader decide whether to consider the book to read.
His words and permission to use the quote arrived less than 24 hours before the final proof goes to the publisher. What timing!