By Tall Poppy Writer, Aimie K. Runyan
There is the common belief that every writer finds her own process and that there are no real rules for creating a novel. There are some pretty standard tenets that are hard to disagree with: Write regularly. Write a lot. Read a lot. Edit. Edit again. Do finish editing at some point. You get the idea. But aside from these, one of the few things authors agree on is that writing is a solitary business.
Because of this, you see that writers tend to travel in packs. The Tall Poppies is a shining example of this. Behind the scenes, we’re able to vent about our frustrations with publishing (they are manifold, as in any similar industry) and celebrate triumphs with people who will really understand what it means when you finally realized how to fill a bothersome plot hole or when your editor gets behind your work in progress. Families and friends are wonderful, but no one really “gets it” like a fellow author. I had thought, early on in my career, that once I landed an agent and I began getting book deals that conference going would be largely unnecessary. HA! I look forward to my local Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference like a giddy teenager awaits the last day of school. It’s a chance to re-charge and fill the well of inspiration with my fellow scribes.
But now I have two books out in the world, one on the way, and another in it’s very first days of conception. I find that at this stage in the game, I need to connect with yet another tribe: readers. I love to know what my fellow bookish types are reading and enjoying. What disappoints them. What moves them in any particular book. It’s inspiring to see the people we write for reacting to the words I’ve written and those of my sisters of the plume.
For centuries, there was a barrier between readers and writers. A reader would have to take the trouble of writing to the author’s publisher and hope that the message might find its way to the writer at some point. Hope of a reply was minuscule. More recently, bookstore events occasionally brought together the reader and writer, but unless you live in a big city, and the author was fairly famous, it was still a challenge to really connect with your favorite wordsmith. But in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, reader and writer–for better or for worse–have an open channel of communication.
And I’ll let you in on a secret–we love it. Authors love hearing that people are reading their words. Even if it’s not your favorite book, we love your enthusiasm. We also love sharing a glimpse behind the curtain of the writing process and our lives. Authors are not, as I believed for so long, the human embodiment of the ivory tower: Unappreciable and unwelcoming. Most of us are kindhearted, fun loving people who loves the chance to make new friends. We have day jobs, families, hobbies, and interests just like you. We just happen to also spend inordinate amounts of time playing with imaginary friends. Nothing weird about that, right?
The amazing thing is that if readers get to know a bit about the writer behind their favorite books, it makes the reading experience all that more meaningful. You know something of what the writer has lived through and *why* they want to share their words with you. If there is a better consequence of social media, I really can’t think of one.
If you haven’t yet, the Tall Poppies’ reader group, BLOOM, is one of the most wonderful groups out there. Swing on by and check it out!: http://bit.ly/areyouinbloom
Aimie K. Runyan is s an author of historical fiction that celebrates history’s unsung heroines. Her first two novels, PROMISED TO THE CROWN and DUTY TO THE CROWN (Kensington), explore the lives of the early female settlers in Louis XIVs Quebec. Her forthcoming novel. DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY (Lake Union, January ’18) follows the Night Witches, the fierce all-female regiment of combat pilots who flew for Russia in the Second World War. She is active as an educator and a speaker for the writing community and beyond. Aimie lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and (usually) darling children.