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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Why We Write

Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 9 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and The Dance. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 2 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year. Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take long walks. You can connect with Dan on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest through his website at www.danwalshbooks.com, or get a sneak peek at all his books.
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Talking to writers here...ever step back and ask yourself why you do this? Why you write?
As a Christian author asking this question, I might think of a big picture reason and say, “I write for the glory of God.” Or maybe, “to use my gifts and talents to glorify God.” Maybe it’s to reach people with credible, inspirational and entertaining stories that touch people’s hearts. Perhaps to help them better understand some of God’s ways through the power of story (though I know only a fraction of His ways, I’m sure).
Those are all honest answers, for me anyway. But I’m not actually thinking of big picture reasons right now. I’m turning the binoculars around the other way and focusing on something much smaller. 
Let me say it this way: One of the reasons I write is to put a smile on Mrs. Ruth Harbour’s face. Who is Ruth Harbour? Well, this past Saturday Ruth celebrated her 101st Birthday. A short time ago, I received an email through my website from another woman named Connie Wolfe. Connie is Ruth’s caretaker. The Subject Line of the email read: Help! We Need More of Your Wonderful Books! Sometimes you don’t know what to expect when you open an email from a reader. I could tell right off I was going to like this one. 
I had no idea how much. Here's what Connie wrote:
Dear Dan Walsh,
I take care of a soon to be 101 year old beautiful lady! I am her caretaker and we love to read your books and your books are her favorite! I tried to find other books to read to her, but nothing holds her attention. She is collecting all of your books. Maybe you could find it in your heart to come to her 101st birthday party which is March 1st, 2014. This would be the greatest gift for Mrs. Ruth Harbour ever. All she talks about is God, Coca Cola, and Dan Walsh, the best author ever!
That’s high praise, coming in 3rd right after God and Coca Cola. When I think of all the amazing memories stored up in the life of a woman blessed to live that long on the earth, it’s hard to fathom that God’s allowed me to get in there now and help her make some new ones.
Dutch books from NetherlandsGetting emails like this helps me get in touch with one of the main reasons I write. It's to reach people like Ruth.
I get emails from all kinds of people and from all kinds of different places. I read them all and try to answer each one myself.
Just last week, a friend I haven’t seen in a while surprised me with a text containing a picture he’d taken in a bookstore in The Netherlands (seen here). He was born there and was back visiting family. He found 4 of my novels on the shelves, thought I'd like to see it. He was right. It was fun. But it was more than that. It blessed me to think my books might reach people who live so far away. People I'll probably never meet in this life.
I love hearing when my books have touched people’s lives. Another favorite example comes to mind. After a book club read my 6th novel, The Reunion, I learned one of the ladies had given the book to her husband, a Vietnam vet (among other things, the book really honors Vietnam vets). He was deeply affected by it and reading it led to them talking through some things they hadn’t discussed in 40 years.
Hearing that is why I write.
Several other examples are starting to pop-off in my head. Too many to include here. But it occurs to me, in a way, getting emails like these from readers like these does kind of tie-in to the first thing I started with; when I said one of the big picture reasons for writing books is to glorify God. I believe God is glorified when people are blessed and encouraged this way. 
Before I close, in case you were wondering, I wasn't able to make Ruth Harbour's 101st birthday part last weekend. But today I received another email from Ruth’s caretaker, letting me know how excited Ruth was that she'd just ordered a copy of my newest novel, What Follows After, which comes out April 1st. I emailed Connie back saying I’d be putting some signed bookmarks in the mail for Ruth this week, including a matching one for the new book...that and a belated birthday card.
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How about you (speaking to writers)? Why don’t you take a minute and share some of your favorite notes and emails from readers. The ones that helped you remember why you write. I’d love to hear about them.

8 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

I don't have any novels published yet, Dan, but I've published magazine articles, including a regular column in a semi-monthly local women's magazine. The title is "Don't Tell My Wife I Wrote This." Naturally, she's the first person to read my column before I send it to my editor. Nothing makes me happier than to hear her laughing as she reads it. Even better if she says, "Don't let the kids see this!" I get responses from readers as well, but nothing compares to the response I get from this woman I've loved for 23 years.

Dan Walsh said...

I know what you mean, Ron. I read every chapter I write to Cindi before writing the next one. Her reaction means more to me than any other.

Robin said...

So great! As an aspiring writer, I'm hoping someday to get such an awesome email from my own "Ruth".

Nicole said...

You can call me many things but a "successful author" isn't one of them. My first novel was a huge saga written for a specific audience of racetrackers (Thoroughbred racing). That novel has sparked comments from personal healings to a return to prayer and the Lord. I give those books away. The lack of distribution of my second novel is why the Amazon reviews touch my heart - because the book touched others' hearts. The highest praise (to me) came from my husband's admission of it was his favorite novel all time. As authors of course we feel we have something to say, tell, write, share. But nothing validates our call as much as the affirmation we receive from those we long to touch, from those who "get" us.

Thanks for a heartwarming post, Dan.

Ane Mulligan said...

Because my debut boo doesn't come out until Sept, I don't have any reader email (other than beta readers). But as a writer, it was through an email that Rose McCauley branded me and settled where and what I write. Southern-fried fiction. ;o)

Ane Mulligan said...

That's supposed to be BOOK not boo ... LOL

Dan Walsh said...

I know what you mean. I can always tell when someone gets what I was aiming for. It's so satisfying. Somewhat makes up for all those who clearly don't.

Dan Walsh said...

Figured that. Wish they'd let you edit these replies.