One reader stood up during the Q&A portion of a recent talk, part of the Great Michigan Read author tour for Annie's Ghosts
, and asked a great question: Do writers mostly write to please themselves?
I hesitated only a moment before blurting out: No way, I said. We write to be read. What's the point of telling a story if no one reads it? If you were writing mostly for yourself, wouldn't you just leave the finished manuscript on the computer or put a print out in a drawer?
Writers are sly enough to know that a little mystique helps make us seem
special, so some of us cultivate an air of mystery around what we do. It's certainly possible that there are writers who set down their stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, to satisfy some primal urge. But for me, a main motivation is connecting with readers -- first through the story itself, my words to their eyes. Then, if I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity, through first-hand interactions at public talks or conversations.
That's one of the great benefits of the 2013-14 Great Michigan Read
tour that kicked off on September 23. I've had a chance to talk about Annie's Ghosts with a wide variety of readers, at a wide variety of venues -- a large high school in Pinckney, the State Historical Center auditorium in Lansing, the School of Social Work at Michigan State University, the annual fall conference of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards. The conversations have been amazing, with people sharing their own stories as well as asking the kind of tough questions that make a discussion not only lively, but thought provoking.
Many other books could have been the Great Michigan Read. There's no shortage of great writers whose stories have a tie to the state. So, a few thank yous:
To readers, for wanting to read the book and discuss it, in their book clubs and at events like the ones I just mentioned.
To Michigan's independent bookstores, for working hard to keep Annie's Ghosts
in stock, and for helping the book make the Heartland (Midwest) Indie Bestsellers paperback nonfiction list
for three weeks running.
To the Michigan Humanities Council, and its statewide and regional selection committees, for choosing the book as the Great Michigan Read -- and especially two student members, grads of Pinckney New Tech High School, who made the book their number one choice, and pushed for it in their committee's discussion. I met them on a visit to Pinckney, and had a chance to thank them in person.
They were readers, and they wanted others to read the book, too -- and that's one of the reasons I write.
To be read.
Labels: Annie's Ghosts, family secrets, Great Michigan Read, Heartland Indie Bestsellers List, MACMHB, Michigan, Michigan Humanities Council, One Community/One Book, Pinckney, Pinckney New Tech High School