The Blog/Diary of Novelist Sam Batterman

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Learning to say "Thanks"

When you are rearing children you work hard to establish good habits and polite manners. One of the main tenants of politeness is that of thankfulness.

When you go through the effort of getting a book written, accepted by an publisher, edited and sold in the marketplace you learn that it takes the effort of a multitude to make one person get noticed.

When I started writing Wayback, nearly two years ago (Summer 2007), I didn't know where it would go. Could I even finish it, was the story interesting to anyone other than me, was the grammar right, did I use the right literary mechanisms, would people like it, or even read it?

These questions haunted me and still do.

As the story began to come into focus I decided to "Open Source" the story a bit. To give it some sunlight and see what people thought. This was hard for me. Exposing something that comes from your mind in the form of writing is different than showing someone a drawing or a painting.
As least to me it is.

Responses ranged from raw curiosity to great feedback and encouragement. Some people read the manuscript and never responded at all, while others gushed about it. If you add this schizophrenia to the earlier points about questioning everything about my own story you get a true mental illness. :)

What I learned was that when you write you write something that interests you, and in the case of writing for the Christian market, you write something that you believe will please God and communicate some truth from His Word.

Nothing else matters.

That said, I've wanted to post this particular entry for a long time and while there is a page in my book to say "Thanks" I wanted to start a bit early.

My wife, Susan, far beyond anyone else was my greatest encourager. In fact, she was surprised to find that I wanted to be an author initially. Not that I hid it from her, it's just that family, career and everything else pushed itself ahead of my desire to write.
My sister, Marnie was one of the first to read my stuff and encouraged me every step along the way. We've always been close and this was a special thing to me. I then included my mother-in-law, Donna and sister-in-law, Bonnie. Both of them continued to encourage me and while I don't think it was their "cup of tea" they accepted me - that was important.

After my sister got done reading the earliest work and didn't respond with a "it really stinks" or "don't quit your day job" I asked my parents for their opinions. What can I say, they're parents. They loved it and jumped on the band wagon. This was nothing new, my parents have always supported me and stood behind me in both my good and bad decisions.

As I got feedback from my immediate family, I pushed beyond them to my closest friends. Chris, Beth, Tim and Carla. All of which supported me and cheered me on. How important are great friends? VERY.

The person who started all of this was next on my list. My high school teacher, Mr. Robin Maples, who I had lost track of over the twenty years since graduation. Back in tenth grade I won a creative writing contest that I entered at the spur of the moment. I was not a writer, I wanted to be a programmer and I really didn't like English and Language very much. Mr. Maples (I still have a hard time calling him "Robin") said one simple phrase to me after reading my first place entry around the topic of "Thanksgiving" - "you might have a gift there - do something with it." That might not be an exact quote, but look how important it was. It simmered in the back of my mind for over twenty years. Words are important and sometimes we say them quickly without thought. His quote after reading the Wayback manuscript was "count me a fan."

Being a book that focuses on the first six chapters of Genesis, I looked to my pastors for their opinions of the writing. The pastors at my church, Valley Forge Baptist Temple weighed in on many of the questions I pestered them with - especially Scott Wendal and Lamar Eifert. They had nothing but encouragement in their responses. Pastor Randy David, my youth pastor also enjoyed the manuscript and sent me his thoughts.

Grammar being the worst of my sins in the creation of this manuscript; I sought out an editor to scrub the early parts of the work before I submitted it to publishers for consideration. Cindy Ley, a professional editor, took evenings and weekends to look at every sentence and every word. Thank you Cindy, who knows what would have happened without your work?

Over the past year, literally dozens of people have read the all of you, I say a huge "Thank You."

Dave Caldwell, Dawn Pleasants, Ben Coulton, Jenalee Good, Paige Martin, Dave Davis, Earnest Grooney, Matt Maney, Nathan Gifford, Chris Lovett, Dan Bressler, Dan Wooster, Joe Hicks, Rory Bond, Troy Bond, Jeff Rapp, Lois Rall, Matt Wendal, Beth Capelletti, Kelly Unruh, Phil Spense, Pat Reeves, Joe Poley, Pastor Dave Jones, Carol Cobb, Charles Cobourn, Bert Arrowood, Jeff Hamm, Andrew Harrod, John & Mary Bergstrom, Rebecca Levis, Joy Caldwell, Jamie Aylestock, Jan W., Rebecca Misiura, Jodi Kappel, Nate Gray, Philip Martin, and Henry & Thea Miller.

In short, writing a book and sharing it with others does two things: one, it make you grow rhino skin and believe in your own ideas and two, it makes you learn to say "Thank You!"

I hope this didn't bore you. I had to do this - it was cathartic!

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