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HERE'S What Tom Says About THAT
I ran across Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night while looking for something else at the library. It looked interesting so I checked it out. I’m so glad I did. A wonderful story about Addie and Louis, two long-time neighbors whose spouses have both passed away. They decide to begin spending nights together, not a romantic, sexual relationship, but companionship to overcome loneliness; someone to talk to and lie next to.
Talking about his wife, Louis says,
“At least she’s at peace now in some other place or higher realm. I think I believe that. I hope she is. She never really got from me what she wanted from me. She had a kind of idea, a notion of how life should be, how marriage should be, but that was never how it was with us. I failed her in that way. She should’ve had somebody else.”
“You’re being too hard on yourself again,” Addie said. “Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people bumping against each other blindly, acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings. Except I still say that isn’t true of you and me. Not right now, not today.“
A gentle story of two people reaching out and touching each other right in the heart. The author passed away after writing this book, before it was published. A lovely coda.
I love my life as a writer for several reasons. Primarily, I enjoy the craft of writing; the satisfaction I get from putting my thoughts into words. I love the research, the impact on my own thinking, and turning it all into words on a page; the art of creating stories – both nonfiction and (coming in the not-so-distant future) fiction. I love the wonder and magic and awe of what writing does for me. I love working alone in my pajamas on a rainy day, taking a walk along the river on a warm, summer’s day to think about a particular chapter or paragraph or sentence, hanging out at the library, or taking a short break by walking into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and returning to my laptop to dive back into the words.
There’s another aspect of writing for which I’m grateful. I recently received small royalty checks from Beacon Press for the sales of my two books during the first half of 2015. Inheriting the Trade was published almost 8 years ago; Gather at the Table more than 3 years ago. They’re both definitely “catalog” titles now. Major publicity and media coverage for both books is in the past. In case the first two sentences in this paragraph misled you, it isn’t the royalty checks for which I’m primarily grateful. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to receive income from my work, but that income is, ahem… modest (I haven’t yet achieved Stephen King or John Irving levels of success).
No, it’s that people read my books. They give Gather at the Table and Inheriting the Trade to friends and children and parents and colleagues. They check them out at the library. They save them on bookshelves in their homes. They sometimes write to me to tell me how my stories impacted their thinking.
All this time after they were published, more than 300 copies of my books – in hardcover, paperback, and ebook – were purchased between January and June of this year. I find that amazing. I love receiving royalty statements to see how many more people now hold one of my books in their hands. For THAT, I’m forever grateful. Keep reading, friends, and we authors will keep writing. I appreciate our relationship more than you probably know.