I was reading something in the Guardian online yesterday and got tugged into reading an article called- excuse the somberness- regrets of the dying. Now, that’s not normally something that would get a double click from my mouse, but there was a sweet picture of a wrinkled hand holding a strong, youthful one and the emotional author in me was hooked. I had to take a peek to make sure I wasn’t going to have any regrets on my way out. You can guess most of them—I shouldn’t have worked so much, I should have followed my dreams—but one that really caught my attention was a wish to have kept in touch with old friends.
Writers are fortunate to have a secret, powerful weapon that helps them do just that. Not many other professions encourage “acknowledgements” each time you finish a piece of work, but upon completing a novel for publication, writers are asked to recognize the people who have helped them on their journey. Every time I’ve penned a dedication, I’ve thought about how lucky I am to be able to publicly reflect like this.
It’s a huge treat for me, for one thing. It nudges me to be introspective for a few hours and really think about who has helped me to come up with an idea or who inspired me to write. I’ve acknowledged high school English teachers, bloggers, other writers, family members and yes… old friends. Just yesterday, I was penning acknowledgements for my summer YA release and pushed myself to think about my friends from summer camp. Without them, I wouldn’t have a story to tell in Camp Boyfriend. It was a pleasure to recognize those friendships, people I don’t see nearly enough anymore.
I also like to think this tradition is a treat for the people who are recognized. Actually, I can attest that is an honor because I’ve been named in friends’ books as a helper in the story process and it always makes me walk a little taller. Plus, it touches my heart to be valued that way, and to have a friend use that limited space to give a shout out to me. When my first book came out and I mentioned my English teachers in the dedication, I had fun sending them a copy of my debut along with a letter telling them how much they inspired me. I hoped that my enthusiasm would help make up for the fact that some kids occasionally yawn in their classes (who could yawn during a lesson on the Romantic Poets??) and it was just plain fun.
Knowing how cool it’s been to send out acknowledgements into the world, I guess I wanted to share the idea with anyone who hasn’t written a book and had the thrill of penning a dedication. You can still write a letter to tell someone who inspired you that you still remember their awesome contribution to your life. That their words meant a lot to you or helped you grow, change, see the world a little differently. Your old friends, mentors, teachers or family members will be touched to be recognized, and the joy you spread will sure make you smile too.
***Who came to mind right away when I mentioned someone who has inspired you? Share with us on the boards today and I’ll give one random poster a copy of my Blaze, RIDING THE STORM (although if you have that one, you can probably talk me into sending you out something else <G>). Also, consider stopping by my YA author site on Valentine’s Day for a slew of giveaways to celebrate the Cover Reveal for Camp Kiss, a prequel novella to Camp Boyfriend. If you read some YA, check us out at http://campboyfriend.net, add our book on Goodreads, or pre-order at Amazon.