Came home the other day to a letter. It was from a fan (and now a friend) I know from Twitter. We’d traded jokes and thoughts online, but only in the haphazard, passing way of Twitter and Facebook, part of the rushing stream.
The letter came with a bottle of some of the best small-batch bourbon I’ve ever tasted, and a small canister of beard balm, which she makes.
These gifts are great, but they pale in comparison to the letter, which I’ll quote from here:
“When you stepped away from your military family, for me it was like reliving my own departure from the grip of the U.S. Army. . . The things you wrote about before, during and after the transition . . . the confusion that politics make duty, the pull to a creative life, the change of a world view brought on by war and all that it is, touched me more than you can know. I thought I was alone in the same kind of external and internal battle – the spin versus the truth, duty versus passion. Thank you for sharing your words and making an old Soldier not feel so all alone.
Here’s to . . . writing some damn good fiction and non-fiction. Keep it up. Your stories matter.”
She’s referring in part to this blog post, and also to the message that’s not so cunningly hidden in my SHADOW OPS novels. It meant a lot to me to read this.
Here’s the thing about writing: It’s really hard. It’s a LOT of work. You do most of this work alone and then you send it away and you have absolutely no idea whether it’s reaching anyone or not, how it’s being received, whether or not it means to others what it means to you. I have said before that I am no Emily Dickenson. I write to communicate, to receive a signal back from the array I am constantly sending out in the world.
I write to not be alone.
And much of the time, heck, most of the time, you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. You sweat and curse and bleed and push and push and push and you have no idea if the rock is going up the hill or not. You worry you’re wasting your time.
And then you get a bottle or bourbon, and a canister of beard balm and a letter, and you know you’re not.
And suddenly, it’s worth it.