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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALEKSANDR VOINOV
I’ve recently had a chat with a colleague at my rent-paying job, who asked me “why are you doing this?” when I told her about some of the woes of being an author. I could talk a lot about piracy, but I won’t.
I rather not dwell on the negatives, because the positives of this, my secondary job, are overwhelming. Often, I stand there, dumbstruck with wonder at this amazing thing we’re doing.
One of the things that keeps me going and makes all the difference between coming home after work, drained and unable to bother with the current chapter, and coming home and starting to type and adding words to the current story, is the reader and other writers. I received some incredibly weird emails from readers – my favourite story is that of some woman who told me I was a bad, evil person, because the first
part of my long free online story didn’t end the way she wanted it to end. Worst of all – she was dead serious. I wrote back and told her that if she paid me half a million up front, I’d write her novel the way she wants it. I also told her that I sincerely apologize not reading the mind of a person of whose existence I hadn’t been aware until she sent me an email, but that I would work harder on my telepathy.
Okay, I was snarky, but there are some strange people out there. But that’s the lunatic fringe, and it pales against the other encounters. There’s this story of a humanitarian aid work in Africa who was working hard to save lives in one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of recent years, and he wrote long, beautiful emails about how my words kept him going when his emotions were bled dry from all that suffering he dealt with on a daily basis.
And I sat there, stunned about how my words, the products of an imagination that can’t shut up and a huge amount of caffeine, could reach down to Africa, and give something to a total stranger, a real hero of our times, and help him get through the day, the week, the month, and the year.
Just a couple week ago, I met one of my long-term readers in “real life”, as she had business meetings in London. We hit it off immediately, chatted over coffee, then wine, haunting the cafes around Picadilly and Leicester Square, talking about people that never existed, but were real to us. Seeing her eyes light up as she talked about my characters and what she thought of my stories and what those triggered in her in memories and emotions, warmed me all over.
Praise is one thing, and of course every writer’s ego craves praise, but actually seeing this generous outpouring of emotion, that fire, that pure joy in somebody else – that’s one of the greatest gifts. In the end, I said to her that it was always a bit of a risk to meet
somebody in the real world, because one never knows if there’s chemistry or if there’s any kind of rapport. And all she did was smile at me and said “oh, I had no doubt. Somebody who writes such beautiful stories could only have been a beautiful person.”
What to say to that apart from: “I’ll work harder. For you, for me, for us.” And to sit down, every day, religiously, to get those words out, whether I feel like it, or not.
Just today, I received an unexpected Christmas gift from a reader. She had read my free things on the Internet, and bought everything that’s currently available (one short story in an anthology), and she asked for more. Now, I’m not the kind of writer who hands out unpublished manuscripts to just anybody, but we’d been chatting for a while and we do have a relationship, and she was so impatient about it that I thought “sod it, let her have it”, so I sent her a couple stories that are not released yet. Today, I got a rather large (and probably completely inappropriate) gift from the largest online book dealer, which simply left me speechless.
I have no doubt she gave it out of the kindness of her heart, but I’m still a total stranger who is just working hard to get those words out. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not used to getting gifts like that, but there it is. People and readers are simply amazing – they are so generous first with their time, then with their appreciation of what they are receiving, and, in turn, they keep me going, because I feel accountable to them and even more responsible to this thing I’m doing.
Somebody out there wants to know how the story ends. Somebody out there needs a perk-up, or a reminder of the beauty of the world, of emotions, somebody is waiting to be made to smile and to dive into the worlds I’m creating and into the heads of people that are only real when I make them real. If I don’t sit down to write, it won’t happen.
I could talk for hours not just about the readers, but the writers and reviewers and beta-readers, too. While there are those small souls that are envious and spiteful and resent anybody publishing anything, most other writers are so generous with their time and advice and all other resources that there is a true sense of kinship, of community.
One of them, Alison, is currently editing my enormous online story for the love of it, and there are others, like the Canadians, that kept me going through a rough patch at the beginning of the year. There are writers like those reviewed here, Erastes, Alex Beecroft, J S Cook, and others over at Noble Romance, Jaye Valentine, Barbara Sheridan, nd others like Kirby Crow, who have given so much in their writing,
but are also completely graceful and generous when it comes to writing and life (and I’m probably forgetting two dozens of them!). The editors who respect the work and who allow themselves to be touched, even if it’s a “business”, all the hard work and creativity that goes into it, and the kinship of those who read, create, review, but most
of all, enjoy good fiction.
That’s why I’m doing it.
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
As a Christmas give-away, I can only offer a copy of “Forbidden Love”,
my short story in Noble Romance’s anthology “Forbidden Love” to a
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