We all have our bad days. Sometimes those bad days stretch into several bad days, even weeks or months. The bad can be physical, emotional, social, relational, political, or some combination of some or all of those things.
In this wonderful, supportive community of bloggers, writing and reading blog posts is a balm for much that ails us.
I’ve been having a rough go lately with my low CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) levels. I’ve been a “quart low” lately, as I jokingly refer to it, meaning constant headaches, ringing ears, lack of motivation, general grumpiness. It sucks. I have a silent or hidden disability, something called spontaneous intracranial hypotension; you can read and learn more about it here. For me, it’s chronic but with ups and downs I’ve learned to manage. Some days, though, ignoring the symptoms is impossible. Writing falls by the wayside, despite my love of writing.
That’s why when unexpected, random good things happen, their positive impact is even sweeter and more welcome, especially when they relate to my writing.
The Gift of a Book that Keeps On Giving
Nearly six years ago – in February 2014 – after ten years of research, extensive interviews, abundant angst, fundraising, writing, self-editing, working with a professional editor, and constant struggle against all the negative self-talk that writers burden themselves with, I self-published my first book, Growing up Boeing.
A mix of history, biography and autobiography, it was a slice of aviation history (1950s-1980s) and an homage to my amazing father, a Boeing test pilot. My father encouraged and supported me in the project, but sadly, he died in 2009, long before a finished product.
What I didn’t expect, or ever imagine, was the outpouring of love I would receive from those who read the book, many who knew my father personally but even more who didn’t but appreciated learning about his life and career and that era in aviation history. They sent me emails, sharing anecdotes that sometimes included my father, or their own time at Boeing. They wrote lovely reviews of the book on Amazon. They showed up when I gave presentations at the Museum of Flight in Seattle and invited me to present at other venues.
The experience that first year was amazing. The sincere thanks and love for sharing my stories, and those of Boeing’s test pilots, felt as warm and sustaining as one of my father’s wonderful bear hugs.
Who knew putting a book out there into the universe could return such ineffable rewards? That creating a Facebook page for the book would provide a meeting place for me and other aviation buffs to meet and stay in touch? And who knew that all these years later, that love continues to flow, surprising me, making me smile, making my day when it arrives?
A New Audience
Last week I received an email from someone at the Washington State Library/Office of the Secretary of State. This person, affiliated with the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, wrote to say that my book had been selected to be included in their library of talking books, in part because of its regional focus. Their audio version will be available nationally to those with vision impairments. He wondered if I’d be willing to participate in a 30-to-60-minute author interview that would be included with the audio version of my book.
Details for the interview, which will likely happen early in 2020, will be worked out since I live in Idaho. Exciting! Can’t wait.
Two days before hearing about the talking book project, I received an email from someone whose last name is similar to mine, same pronunciation but different spelling: Walloch. He works at Boeing, and says he’s constantly asked if he’s related to my father, Lew Wallick, who was Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot and Director of Flight Test. Turns out, this man’s relatives go much farther back in Boeing history than my own. We exchanged some emails about that history, our similar surnames, and how we might be related after all, both our families emigrating from Germany long ago.
It was my book that made this connection; a possible family connection was secondary. Such emails and making these new connections are priceless and make me smile. A really big smile.
I have a folder on my computer where I keep and savor each reader email. I’ve made so many new friends along the way. I’m especially grateful that now I can count as friend many of my father’s friends and colleagues. All because of my book. I never knew that a book could result in the creation of a community.
A huge takeaway from my own experience: If you read something you like, reach out to the author and let them know, or write positive online review. You’ll make their day. Writers all have one thing in common: we wonder if readers care. Finding out they do is all the reward we need to keep writing.
Don’t Give Up, Keep Writing
I know – oh, how I know – how difficult it can be for new writers to imagine finishing a book, seeing it published, people reading it and writing reviews. It took me roughly a decade from idea/decision to start to finished product, with lots of hiccups, dead ends, and emotional roller coasters along the way.
After my father died, I set the project aside entirely, too sad to proceed without him. But I was haunted by the sense that I had been gifted amazing stories that would die with those who, like my father, had lived them if I didn’t pick the project back up. So in late 2012 I got motivated, and creative. I ran a successful Kickstarter fundraiser that allowed me to write the book over the summer of 2013, then edit and self-publish it over the next few months. Having people believe in me and my project, evidenced by their Kickstarter donations, was the push I needed to get the project done. In that process, a whole new world of connections was given to me, keeping me close to my father is ways I could never have imagined. I even received a lovely letter from HRH Prince Philip, who had flown with my father in a 757 in the 1980s.
So here’s what I know: the rewards are definitely worth all the effort and angst. To anyone reading this who is writing a book, wondering why they’re suffering through all the stages of that process, the self-doubt and negative talk, the writer’s block, whether it’s worth pushing through all that and pursuing your project to completion, I say YES! Yes, absolutely. Don’t give up, don’t stop. Find a way.
The rewards aren’t monetary, at least for most of us, although some money can be made through online sales. The true rewards are in goals met and in realizing that people appreciate your writing. Hearing from a satisfied reader makes me ridiculously happy, more than any sum of money could.
Connections with readers are the reward that keep you writing and striving. That’s true whether you’re writing a book, a blog or a social media post. Connection is the raison d’etre. I’m new to blogging in this WordPress community, but I’m already blown away by its depth, breadth, and supportive nature.
Pursue your dream. Don’t give up, no matter how long or difficult the road.
One foot in front of the other; one word following the last; one more edit.
You can learn more about Growing Up Boeing here. And thank you, in advance, if you decide to purchase a copy!