Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Readers letters

I doubt if any author would deny that writing is hard work. It drains the energy both physically and mentally. However, the pleasure of writing usually outstrips the pain of frozen shoulders, carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes and mental exhaustion that comes with life in front of a computer. The author creates a plot and the characters, and as they take their designated journey, a struggle takes place to bring them alive in a believable way. The characters themselves sometimes put up a fight. It’s as though - once you’ve given them life - they’ve decided that they’re going to live it their way, just like real people do. This independence of character is surprising when it happens, even though it’s not entirely unexpected. Sometimes, their meddling will take the plot in a different direction altogether, so everything has to be adjusted.

I didn’t know how much work went into a book until I actually started writing one. As a reader I had my favourite writers, of course, and usually, I either liked a book or I didn’t. Either way, I never thought to contact the author. Writing is subjective, but most published books will please some of the people some of the time. Rarely will they please all of the people though. If I didn’t like a book I wouldn’t write and tell the author. And having been singed by a rotten and totally unfair review, I would rather not review a book at all, than badly review one. But praise is always acceptable, and it surprises me now to realize that when I was a reader, I never wrote to an author with a word of praise, telling them how much I enjoyed their work. Rather, I took them for granted.

I do receive a steady amount of letters from readers of my books. I always write to the readers and thank them (it makes up for all the writers I didn’t thank in the past!) and when I can, I try and help them out with any queries they may have. A little while ago I exchanged a letter with Kath who lives in Rayburn, a farming community near Bendigo in Queensland. She borrows her books from the mobile library. Today, I received an unexpected gift of two coffee cups and a tea strainer dish in Bendigo pottery, to thank me for writing books that she enjoys reading.

I was very touched by this gesture, and it brought home to me how lovely it is to receive thank you letters and praise from readers. On the bad days when nothing I write seems to go to plan, it warms me to be able to look through the letter files and be able to find faith in my creative self again. So thank you Kath, I’ll think of your kindness every time I have a cup of coffee. And thank you to all the readers who buy and read my books.


  1. How lovely. That would have made your day, Janet.
    I'm glad you mentioned about pleasing some of the people some of the time. lol.
    As you can't please all of the people all the time.

  2. What a lovely thing for her to do! You should be very proud that your work has brought joy to someone through your writing, Janet.

  3. How lovely. To receive recognition where none is expected is such a warm experience. I hope the coffee leaves a friendly flavour and makes for even better reading. I’ve always assumed you knew I love your novels. I promise to say so in future. ---- Janet you’ll have to take the helm and use a GPS the old seadog doesn’t cut it any more. Perhaps he’s ready for a good saga and the pasture seat, with a rug and a coffee. Too much of the ‘Sail east to make north when the wind blows from the west’ is playing inside and confusing the navigation advice he forwards. ---- Eric