I was at work today, at the other job I really love. I was at Noisy Water Winery, working the cheese counter which means offering samples of the 20-some varieties of cheese we sell, and doing a lot of what I do whenever I get a chance: people watching.
So, in a sense, I was doing the REAL job as well, since a lot of writing comes from observing.
Anyway, a group of people came in, an older couple with a younger man and woman. I set them up with a cheese and cracker platter and they sat at a table, enjoying each other's company and some great wines and cheeses. It became apparent that they were regulars and were in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and had chosen to spend the afternoon at Noisy Water. Near closing time, my husband walked in and sat at the table they had just vacated, waiting for me to finish up. The people were shopping and the older gentleman and his wife struck up a conversation with my husband. I wasn't really listening to what was said, since I was busy helping customers, but I did hear my husband say, "Yes, that's my wife at the cheese counter. She's a published author, too, and that's her book for sale over on the counter."
Immediately the couple rushed over to the counter to tell me that they had bought my book and LOVED it, the man being especially careful to tell me that he wasn't a reader, but that he loved the story and the characters. When they found out that there was a second book, and soon to be a THIRD book, they were beside themselves with excitement. The woman promptly plunked "No Lifeguard on Duty" on the pile of merchandise they were buying and asked me to sign it.
I won't bore everyone with the details of their praise (which was beginning to embarrass me after awhile... not that I felt any need to discourage them, however!) but I'm still floating on that little pink cloud their kind and enthusiastic words had put me on.
Often when people find out I'm a published author, one of their first questions ends up being, "So how much money have you made from your books?" I don't know if they believe me when I say I don't do it for the money. I guess they figure that I have to keep it a secret. But the truth is that the real rewards from writing and being published don't come in a check (although the checks ARE nice!) The real reward comes from the connection: hearing a reader say how much they enjoyed the story... how they couldn't put it down... how they loved the characters and felt like they wanted to meet them in real life... and how they hoped the next book was a sequel because they really, REALLY wanted to read about those characters again.
I got my reward today. It's better than a big royalty check. It's the real reason I keep writing.
What a great way to wrap up a weekend of giving thanks!