Please view at cristyfossum.com for full graphics and presentation
According to author and creative writing teacher Bret Lott, “…it is the joy of having written that story that is the truest reward.” More rewarding than being published or praised. I agree—and yet, being affirmed plays its role. Reader’s comments, from “You have a way with words” to “Your books changed my life” encourage me lots.
Here are a few readers’ responses I am pleased to share with you, setting them in a context with a line from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Are Watching God: “Ah takes dat flattery offa you, Phoeby, ‘cause Ah know it’s from de heart.”
Two of my favorite compliments come from my daughters. With that mother-daughter thing going on, I cherish positive feedback when they throw it my way, and didn’t particularly expect it vis a vis Sunday by Sunday. But…
Reading the first book right after publication in 2007, my older daughter pronounced, It’s more of a page turner than I expected. That is a huge endorsement from a 30-something, widely-read English major whose preferred genre is decidedly not small town church fiction. I wrap her compliment around me like a mink stole. (pure simile, friends—let’s don’t wear animals…) Incidentally in this regard, I love that my friend Marilyn’s friend called it that darn book because it was hard for her to put down.
My other daughter, into Sunday by Sunday II, called me one afternoon during her reading time, while baby napped, and said, You made me cry! We talked that through, and I asked if anything had made her laugh. I was delighted that something had: Rose’s friend in the throes of Alzheimers grabbing a blossom from the Easter lily Rose was delivering and trying to eat it.
My satisfaction goes deep when someone says my stories and characters are realistic, because that is what we writers of literary fiction are aiming for. My friend Brad’s take goes to that point, I think, when he says, Cristy lays some heavy shit on us. Wow. Thanks, Brad.
Readers who are on different places on life’s journey posted these comments on Amazon about Sunday by Sunday, and I am honored by both:
You’ll find the mystery of God’s enduring love among ordinary folks who struggle with the whole concept of God, and you’ll find the mystery of what it means to be family with all of its diversity and joy and heartbreak.
Though I don’t consider myself religious, I really enjoyed this series of books. The characters were realistic, flawed, and interesting, and there are some surprising and extremely touching moments. Thanks for that, sister Lori!
And then, there’s negative encouragement. I was deflated by an agent’s feedback on Beyond the Gate, my current novel: I don’t mean to be harsh, but most [agents] wouldn’t read past the first couple of pages in its current form. She was so right! I’ve worked hard on it since then, over a year ago, and it takes my breath away to think I thought it was ready.
I’m always grateful for reader feedback, knowing “it’s from de heart.” You can read more reader commentary on my work at cristyfossum.com
But here’s a question for you: Have you ever commented directly to an author or received feedback from a reader on something you wrote? Was there interaction?