I always thought that when people I know read my book and didn't say anything about it that it meant that they didn't like it or it wasn't very good. Then I realized that I'm guilty of that too. My friend and author Jane Kirkpatrick has written at least 18 books and she has given me a copy of everyone of them. I immediately read them and have loved every one. She is a great writer and has won multiple awards, it's how she makes her living. In fact she is the reason that I started writing. Nearly 30 years ago she and her husband Jerry moved to remote Eastern Oregon and me and my new husband moved to the isolated spot and helped to build their home.
Over the 10 months period that we lived there on the land beside the Kirkpatricks in our little home made camp trailer, with no radio reception, phone or T.V., I wrote. She was just beginning her career of writing and had published in periodicals and papers and wrote on a daily basis. So during the time I wasn't staining siding or painting walls, hanging wallpaper or baking cookies I wrote too. Jane would edit and critique my work and taught me how to submit query letters and more. Over the next two decades I continued to write a little, selling informational articles occasionally to monthly magazines. Informational articles are facts. Write what you know, do some research and that's it. When I wrote my book A Sacred Place, it was more difficult because it is personal.
Friends and relatives have read my book and a few have made the effort to contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed it and how well it is written. I really need to hear that. I am always doubting myself and my abilities. I try to convince myself that it doesn't matter what people think, but it does. I need the positive feedback to feel validated. Then it hit me. Of all the books that Jane has written and given me, I can't ever remember telling her how much I liked it. And I did like them. I think she is a great writer. I guess I thought she already knew that. Now I wonder if she ever felt the way that I'm feeling. Do you suppose she ever doubted herself?
I think we need to be better communicators. We need to give people compliments and tell them how much we appreciate their work or effort. Or even how much we like their new haircut or outfit. We shouldn't assume that they already know it. We all need to hear it. It builds us up. My second cousin whom I've only met once as a young teenager made me realize this. She began reading my book, which is about her family too, and she contacted me to tell me how much she was enjoying it then she thanked me for writing it. That made my day. If I never sell another copy, which haven't been many, I have accomplished what I set out to do. To make at least one person happy and maybe make their life a little better by sharing stories they never would have known about their own family if I hadn't written the book. I am also going to work on my own communication skills and stop assuming that just because someone doesn't give me a compliment about my writing doesn't mean I'm not a good writer.
Sherrie Gant is a writer, photographer, and