Sadly, I haven't had many opportunities to work on my manuscript lately, between end-of-summer outings and a round of colds and preparing to homeschool my boys for the first time this fall. But even during these periods of time when I'm not doing much actual writing, my writer's brain never completely turns off. Sometimes that's a lot of fun - like when I come up with new story ideas or help my kids brainstorm new challenges for their Lego superheroes. But sometimes, it's mundane - like when it takes me ten minutes to carefully write and edit an e-mail that others would dash off in thirty seconds. Even when I know it's probably not that important to get the phrasing just right or to vary my word choice or to make sure my commas are in the right place, I can't seem to help myself! Then I get frustrated, feeling like I wasted time and effort on something that wasn't worth it. After all, many of those e-mails probably aren't even read very carefully, and it's not like anyone's leaving a review!
I'm a volunteer leader for several local groups, and last spring produced many challenges as we figured out how to handle the pandemic and find safe ways to stay active and connected. I ended up with the task of drafting e-mails in which I struggled to put to words the limitations of the current situation, how we planned to move forward, and how much we missed everyone and hoped they were staying well. A friend responded to one of those e-mails, saying "Wow, Laurie! Fantastically written email. Thanks for all your hard work!" I almost got teary-eyed at her kind words, at the realization that someone did notice the time and care I'd put into something as boring as an e-mail. More recently, at a meeting when we were trying to figure out who should draft one of our documents, someone volunteered me, mentioning that she's always impressed when she reads something I've written and that I always word things so well (someone who's never read any of my books or stories!).
This encouragement was just what I needed to remember that all my words matter, and that my gifts as a writer are important even in seasons of life when I'm not writing something fun and exciting like a story or novel. I can make a difference in small ways, too, even just by taking the time to write a thoughtful note to a friend or to carefully draft a group's goals for the coming year. And so can you! As an author, it can be so easy to get caught up in the "glamour" of book releases and awards and interactions with fans, and of course we want to celebrate those! But let's not lose sight of the ways we can impact someone closer to us when they open a card or even just check their inbox :)
I hope everyone had a fabulous Labor Day weekend, and to all of you who are teachers, students, or parents of school-age kiddos - have a wonderful school year!
See you next time!