Recently I sat in my church for a non-church related function. The physical feature of the sanctuary I love the most is the huge stained glass window. Here is a picture of it, in case you have never made it out to Community Lutheran Church in Sterling, Virginia. By the way, I invite you if you have never been.
On that evening, there was no light outside the building so the bright colors were not illuminated. What was prominent on that night were the areas between the colored pieces of glass. These are the pieces of material that hold the glass together. Normally, you don’t notice it because the colored glass is illuminated.
You may think it would look uglier than when the sun is shining through; but, you’d be wrong. It looks like a photo negative of itself. The dark parts in between are suddenly prominent. The glass parts were muted, almost to the point of being black.
It’s a lot like life … and writing for that matter. In both, you tend to trumpet your achievements.
- “I’m done with my first draft!”
- “I’ve signed with a publisher.”
- “I won a major award and now Hollywood wants to write my life story.” Okay, that last one is a bit silly, but you get my meaning.
Yesterday, I was at Hallowread in Maryland. I found my sales to be a bit sluggish, but it didn’t matter. I was sitting next to a guy who I’d seen at other events and we got to talking. We had a nice chat and in between talking to potential fans, we learned more about one another. I also met an award-winning, best-selling author who, it turns out, lives in my own neighborhood. I also met another author who lives just down the road from me. In short, I made some new friends.
Once again, being an author taught me something that I forget all too often. The other side of writing, the human interaction with my fellow authors, is just as beautiful as those accomplishments I can post to Facebook. The joy of being a writer isn’t rooted in the pages or the cover art of the book. It’s knowing and working with other writers, editors, and publishers who love the written word as much as I do.
Life can beg you to lose focus. The newspaper routinely relegates stories of humans behaving kindly to the back pages. If you watch your local news, human interest stories are never the lead. They are always buried deeply into the newscast, usually just before the weather. We are subjected to the peaks and valleys of human existence, and forget that in-between human beings are affected. Maybe not newsworthy, but maybe more important than what candidate said what.
Advertisers want you to think you should buy their product to be smarter, faster, prettier, and cooler than the next guy or gal. “You need this to be better than all the others. If you are not the lead dog, then the scenery never changes.” I’d love to see an ad campaign featuring a celebration of teamwork. But you likely won’t. Teams normally don’t go to the store to buy the same deodorant, socks, or sports drink. Nope, they want you to think that you need this or that to propel yourself to the top of the heap.
Here’s a shocking revelation. I don’t want to be better than any of you! I want to be one of you. I want to be your friend. I’d love to be able to sell so many books that I can be a full-time writer. However, I’m not willing to step on others to get there. I don’t want to leave all my friends behind on this great journey we call life, I want to bring you all with me. Life at the top, with no one to share it with is a lonely existence indeed.
BTW, did you know that if you don’t read The Dramatic Dead, then your friends are way cooler than you are? Just kidding! But seriously, it is pretty awesome.
-Your Humble Servant,