I once read a story about a writer who so detested his wife that he plotted to kill her. Since she was a devoted partner who delighted in cooking him gourmet meals, this seemed surprising.
Until the author revealed late in the story that there was one thing the wife had never done. She’d never bothered to read any of her husband’s books.
I don’t think I’d be tempted to off any family members who hadn’t read my work, but I will say it makes me feel so good when they do! The other day, for example, my older son called me up and said he’d just finished reading IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU and he loved it! (Okay, he’s not the most unbiased reader, but I was thrilled anyhow.) Now he was 100 pages in to my first novel, WHILE I DANCED.
I admit it. I was ridiculously pleased. My son’s a CEO who works mega-crazy hours and has a young family as well. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him sitting around reading a novel—let alone a young adult novel. I was touched that he was reading my work, not anything he’d ordinarily choose to read or think he had time for.
Of course, I couldn’t resist teasing him. “Does this mean I have to listen in on your earnings calls?” I asked.
“Not necessary,” he said.
It’s funny, though, how these things do matter to us writers. A multi-published novelist in my Sisters in Crime group has lamented that her own sister has never read any of her books. “She’s too busy reading James Patterson,” she said. She’s mentioned this more than once, and I can tell it bothers her. In her mind, I think it’s as though her sister’s not interested in meeting any of her children.
Books, of course, aren’t as important as children, but they do come from a place deep inside us, and they emerge from lots and lots of hard labor.
So, the next time you want to make family members or close friends in the arts feel really valued, read their books, listen to their music, or admire their paintings. Your support and interest are truly acts of love.