Family and friends teased me at the size of my book, more than 700 pages – which sounds like a lot (okay it is a lot but it’s a fast read believe me), yet the majority of the teasing was because they determined that I write the way I speak, using many words. Admittedly I do talk long; if I’m telling a story it’s a long story. But then if I’m answering a question or weighing in with a comment, that’s likely to be long too. And no, we writers don’t like to hear ourselves talk, I think we simply love words. We like to speak them as well as write them.
We writers love the way words sound, we love how they roll off our tongues or out of the ink of our pens. We love how they tweak the imagination painting illustrative pictures we use to convey information and concepts and yes our own opinions. Words gives flavor and seasoning to our world – both real and imagined. Words provide light and shadow and depth and color. We love how words roll off our tongues and how they dance and box during engaging conversations. We writers love the emotion that words both evoke and convey – laughter, anger, shock, tears, passion, commitment, patience, love, solidarity, alarm, retrospect, peace. Words can incite a riot and quiet a fussy baby. Words can lead men in the most heinous acts of genocide, or quell a mounting storm bringing peace. Words.
I’ve been around for a while (my gray hair can attest to that) and I’ve seen what words can do. That’s why I respect the craft and the responsibility that goes along with it. I’m not a casual writer, I’m a serious writer. With that I recognize I’m responsible for every word I ever publish. I owe it to humanity to pour out good, to do no evil, and I also owe it to humanity to call it out if it’s wrong – to point, if not lead, the way to change. All of this is simply me being responsible and true to the craft I love.
So what’s the reader’s responsibility? Simply to keep the writer honest. Honest and true to the craft. Your job is to kick the writers you know and follow in the seat of their pants if they ever get lazy and start turning out work that’s subpar, less than you know they can produce. Your job is to call trash trash and throw it where it belongs. Your job is to support your favorite writers with encouragement, nice reviews and by continuing to buy their books. In reality, your job is to inspire us. A real writer is writing for the reader. Sure, The Heart’s Journey Home is a story (a series really) that had been rolling around in my gut for a while and I simply had to get it out, but every sentence and paragraph and chapter I wrote, I wrote with you in mind. I want you to love my teen characters as much as I’ve come to know and love them. I want you to care about what’s bugging them. I want you to feel their joy and anguish and be surprised right along with them when the unexpected happens. I want you to be entertained. I wrote the book for you.
I feel the relationship between the writer and the reader is simply sweet. Making friends with people all over the world, people you likely will never meet, but through the written word you make a connection. I’m old enough to be everybody’s mama, I’m Black, female, and I live in the Metro-Detroit area USA, but through this one book we can be friends. Now that’s special. This is why I write. Sure I want everybody to buy my book, but I want you to enjoy reading it. I want you, wherever you are, to simply get to know me. A wordsmith.