Writing is a lonely, solitary pursuit. For months, even years, we spend large chunks of time with imaginary characters who, for the time they're with us, are as important to us as any of the "real" people in our lives. When I'm neck-deep in a book and it's going well, I wake up thinking about what I'm going to write that day and go to sleep thinking about what comes next. Often, I even dream about it. I force myself out of the bubble to work the day job and to take care of my family. But when I'm making beds or driving or drying my hair, I'm plotting. Despite this immersion, for all the time that I'm taken over by a story, only my family and a close friend or two even know it's happening.
Once the book is finished, you expect the world to pause to acknowledge this enormous accomplishment. But in my experience it goes something like this: "That's awesome, Mom. Congratulations! What's for dinner?" It can take months, years, and, in some cases, a lifetime before anyone knows that you've created this place and these people and these situations that you hope will touch just one reader. In the case of Love at First Flight, I overheard the conversation that spurred the idea for the book ten years ago. I finished writing it three years ago in an all-night marathon of creative energy that's never been replicated. Three years is a LONG time to wait to share something you're so proud of and so excited about with the world. It's a long time to wait to find out if anyone likes it, if the passages that made you cry as you wrote them will make someone else cry when they read them.
So then what's in it for us? Other than the thrill of creating that world and those characters, where's the pay off? Since Line of Scrimmage came out last September, I've discovered that the ultimate reward is in hearing from people I've never met who tell me they were touched by Ryan and Susannah's story. This week, Donna, one of the faithful followers of this blog as well as my personal blog and Cheryl's sent me this note:
You caught me on the 1st yard line and ran me down the field for a Touch Down!!!! OMG!!!! This is truly a Game Winner.
I haven’t read a book this good since LaVeryle Spencer.
Ryan and Susannah were so real. Their true love, and anger, tears and laughter, trust and distrust, pain and sorrow, their unbelievable sizzling chemistry. It’s a totally believable story, the focus was not just the love relationship between a man and a woman. It was about family and forgiveness. These “ordinary” people are warm and vulnerable and you portrayed them so sympathetically. I loved Ryan from the first handoff of the ball. I never let go. He had this fire, warmth, strength, and he was downright sexy. I loved Susannah, hated Susannah and I wanted to just shake her. She was sweet, savvy, strong, and vulnerable at the same time.
I understand her distrust, but Ryan was so unbelievably in love and devoted to her and with putting that marriage and their life back together. He was a wonderful Hero.
And Henry was a total Creep. I wish Susannah’s dad would have punched him in the head. All I could think about was the bowtie and Pee Wee Herman. He made my skin crawl. A excellent, selfish, rotten villain.
But Ryan Sanderson is the kind of person and professional athlete that you can look up to. You sure put a lot of life’s hard lessons in this book. You wrote a fabulous book and I can’t say enough great things about this book and your style of writing and I see a wonderful career in contemporary romance. This will be a best seller. I can’t say more than, you blew me away. And you’re awesome. I can’t wait to read the next book. You deserve a Super book Ring.
Can you spell P-A-Y-O-F-F? Thank you, Donna—and the many others—who have written to me about Line of Scrimmage, for your kind words, for your appreciation of what I was trying to do with the story of a marriage in crisis, and for making all the time and energy that went into creating Ryan and Susannah so entirely worth it. Nothing in my life, short of the joy I take in my children, can match the feeling of getting an e-mail like Donna's, letting me know that my book connected with that one reader.
To Donna and all the others who've taken the time to write to me since last September, thank you so much for making this writer's life complete. You were well worth the wait.