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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Creative People Fill My Life

This morning, once again, found me reading Jerry Dennis’s latest book, A Walk in the Animal Kingdom, and admiring the way he weaves glimpses of his childhood and adult life with wife and sons together with stories of birds and fishes, bugs and beasts. Artist Glenn Wolff’s illustrations make me feel like a kid again, and my eyes move back and forth hungrily between text and drawings, captivated in turn by words and pictures. (My artist husband has the same response to this book that I have.) Even with cherry harvest in progress less than half a mile away, it was a peaceful morning. Dog, book, and coffee. Early sun, birds flitting and occasionally calling or trilling out a song. Hum and buzz of insects.

Not far from my mind, either, was yesterday’s bookstore event with author D. M. (David) Greenwald from Kalamazoo, pictured here at left with Northport writer Karen Trolenberg of Northport and below with the third novel in his series, The Wichita Mountain Manhunt. Greenwald shared fascinating stories to the small audience on Saturday about dogs (naturally), but also about writing, rewriting, publishing, and publicizing, and once again I was struck by the generosity of writers, willing to give of their time to share their experiences.

David Greenwald had great stories about dogs, adventure, and writing

Sarah Shoemaker, Dorene O'Brien, Elizabeth Buzzelli, Marilyn Zimmerman,
Trudy Carpenter, et moi at Hearth & Vines (at Black Star Farms)

When fiction writer Dorene O’Brien comes to northern Michigan for her annual summer vacation, a group of us get together for lunch and to share tales of writing in progress. We cheer each other’s hopes and triumphs, sympathize with disappointments and setbacks, and, always, share the excitement of creating fictional characters and worlds. “Writing is hard work,” David Greenwald said on Saturday. Yes, it is, but for those of us who can’t stay away from it, it is an important part of who we are, so conversation with others similarly engaged (afflicted?) helps us sort ourselves out.

I love to bring writers together because they learn so much from each other, but it is equally rewarding to bring writers and readers together.

One of Greenwald’s admiring readers on Saturday told him she didn’t think about his writing at all: she was lost in the stories. That, of course, is the object. Music to a writer’s ears, that kind of praise! Another said that when she finished the third book in the trilogy with tears streaming down her face, her mildly alarmed husband said, “I hope there aren’t any more books in that series!” But crying over a book is a positive response: it means a strong connection has been made, a heart has been touched -- with nothing but words!

Sometimes meetings between writer and reader take place in person and are gratifying to both, as was the case at Dog Ears Books on Saturday. More often the books are the sole link: I introduce and recommend, and a bookstore customer buys and takes home the author’s work. Writer and reader may never shake hands, but I have brought them together. It is a great privilege.

Remember this, I tell myself, when you are very, very old. Your life was filled with riches!


Deborah said...

And you enriched others with your life.

Dawn said...

Sweet and thoughtful post.

Karen Casebeer said...

Wonderful post, Pamela. I always come away with solid ideas for my next reads.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks, Deborah, Dawn, and Karen. I got the nicest e-mail today, too, from visiting author David Greenwald. He wrote, “Thank you so much for inviting me to Northport. We all had a wonderful time. I really enjoyed meeting you and your Northport friends. What an interesting group! And I was really impressed with the amount of foot-traffic through your store and the number of books that you sold, both mine and others, especially given the beautiful beach day that we had. It was very gratifying to hear the way you and the others spoke about my books and my writing. It's one thing when your friends and family say they like your books. It's quite another matter when total strangers, especially avid readers, tell you how they loved them and couldn't put them down.”

And indeed, I got another reader started on the series only this morning, David!