Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why I Write

by Kari Diane Pike

I witnessed a miracle last week. This miracle happened because someone wrote a book. I still feel giddy, and I'm not even the author. I did, however, introduce the reader to the author...and the book.

I've heard Janette Rallison describe her feelings at book signings...not unlike going stag to the Prom and hoping that someone will ask you to dance...only in this case you're hoping someone will not only buy your book, but ask you to sign it. The day Aprilynne Pike's book, Wings, was released, she was scheduled for her first book signing at Changing Hands Book Store in Tempe, AZ. Wanting the event to be a success, and to give support, I invited as many people as I could, including my dear friend Debbie and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Megan. Debbie didn't have a lot of interest in going, but she knew Megan would get a kick out of being a "groupie," so we piled into my beat-up van and unknowingly opened the doors to new and exciting experiences.

The book signing proved to be a delightful event. The chairs filled quickly and several other people (I must have shared genetic material with at least 75% of them!) stood around the room listening to Aprilynne relate the story of how she came to write Wings and read a few pages of tantalizing text. On the ride home, Debbie said she loved listening to the reading and couldn't wait to find out what happens. Then she shrugged her shoulders and said,

"I'll probably just ask Megan after she reads the book. I'm not much of a reader. When I do try to read, I forget what happens and I spend so much time reading things over and over again, it's just not fun. So, I'll have Megan tell me about it."

A couple of weeks later, Debbie called. She sounded funny, as though she had just awakened from a late afternoon nap.

"Debbie, are you OK?"

"Yeah. I'm just having trouble seeing."

"What? Does your head hurt? Why? Is Johnny there? Do you need help?" The questions poured out of my mouth as panic set in my heart. Debbie has had some health problems in the past and my imagination ran wild.

Laughing, Debbie interrupted my barrage and assured me she felt fine. "I just finished reading Aprilynne's book. I've been reading for two and a half days straight. And I finished it! I couldn't put it down. I remembered everything. I felt like I was right there in the forest with her and I want Laurel to have both of the guys, even though I know that is wrong, but I love both of the guys and...Kari...it is the first time in my entire life I actually read a book. Did you know that I have never, ever read and entire book, ever? Except for little children's books that I read to my kids. I have never read an entire "grown-up" book. I know it sounds silly to say that a book about fairies changed my life, but it did. A huge part of my life has changed now. My family kept walking into the room and asking me what I was doing. I told them I was reading a book. They looked at me funny and said, 'You're reading a book?' They had never seen me read a book before. I'm fifty years old and I read my first book. I didn't know I could read a book. Do you know what a huge thing this is for me? I never knew I could actually read a book."

I cried. I cried for joy because I do know what it means to Debbie. I know Debbie quit school in the seventh grade and is terrified of speaking to teachers and other "authority figures" because she's ashamed of her supposed ignorance. My friend learned something new about herself and I cried because I know what this means not only to Debbie, but to her children and grandchildren. And I laughed. I laughed and I danced because the light that flowed from Debbie...even through the phone lines...tickled my heart. A book about fairies showed my friend what I have known all along; that all it takes is the right words at the right time to create a miracle.

7 comments:

  1. oops...Anna, I apologize for posting on your day! I thought I hit the right buttons to send it tomorrow morning...sigh...

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  2. Wow! What a great story. My sister read her first book at age 18- it was Huckleberry Finn. She struggled with dyslexia. My son who has also had a horrible time learning to read, discovered the joy of reading with Harry Potter at age sixteen. If every I meet JK Rowlings, I'll throw my arms around her in gratitude of that great gift.

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  3. How thrilling let alone how proud you must be!

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  4. How exciting wish I could remember my first book but that would be too long ago...hurrah for Debbie.

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  5. I love that story. I'm excited to read Wings.

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  6. Wow. That's an amazing story and shows the power of a good book! Kudos to author, Aprilynne, and to your friend, Debbie.

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  7. Wonderful story. We never know just what effect our writing, or our anything else, will have. Debbie's joy of reading will probably carry on for decades, and will not only bring her more joy, but gladden all of us as well.

    And I'm happy you posted for my day. I completely forgot about it, even though I had been reminded, and will post today. (I hope) Thanks, and my congratulations to you and Aprilynne.

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