We’ve spent Thanksgiving week giving thanks to the Kids, the Elders, and Life’s Sweet Partners. That covers most ground (sorry friends, coworkers, and facebook people I’m pretending to recall better than I actually do – maybe next year!). Or at least it covers most ground personally.
Professionally, I still owe someone special. My enormous debt of gratitude, and my undying thanks, go to a larger community.
I’ve written about this before (and, um, written about this before), but it bears repeating. I was in a very dark place when I started writing….actually, that’s the wrong way to put it. I’ve always been writing. I’ve had decades of that. What’s different now is sharing my work with strangers. Two short novels, a blog, and a podcast. More on the way.
And I get comments like this one from Wonderful Reader MF, who recently read my piece about watching my son grow and trying to grow along with him:
FANTASTIC piece of writing from Jacke Wilson. Tears in my eyes.
And suddenly I realize that I have a voice, which I can humbly offer to the world in my own small way. That there are people out there listening to it. I’m trying to make an impression on this world, to explain myself through some stories. Have my say. Make a few people laugh. Make a few people cry. Connect with people.
I know, I know. Social media etc. We can all connect now. We may be TOO connected, or at least too connected virtually and not enough in reality, or something. I’m not here to argue with any of that. And I wish we wrote personal letters, and I wish I was better about calling old friends, and I wish I was home for dinner every single night instead of five out of seven (on average). But that’s not the kind of connection I’m talking about, important as those may be.
I’m talking about the connection of a storyteller and a listener. The ancient bard. The campfire shaman. The fiction writer for the Saturday Evening Post. The nineteenth-century novelist delivering the latest installment to newspaper readers. The serial cartoonist. The soap opera scriptwriters. The novelist who has one good book in him or her and the novelist who has fifty books pouring out. The miniaturist short story writer. The poet who crosses over into prose. NaNoWriMoers who urge their manuscripts on their friends.
And the Thanksgiving raconteurs who entertain their families with story after story after story about the profound, the humorous, the mundane, the difficult, the glorious – all the triumphs and tragedies that befit a single family at a single table in a single house in an unassuming corner of the world.
These people. People who tell stories. And people who are there to hear them. The first category cannot exist without the second. We forget that: we glorify the storyteller, we write biographies of them and put them in a pantheon of heroes. But the storylistener – well, I had to invent that word, didn’t I? Because they are unsung. And yet, they’re the quiet but essential part of the connection I’m celebrating today.
And for those of us who like nothing better than a good story, and who somehow see the act of being human as being incomplete without being able to communicate something about how we live, what we think, what’s happened to us and what it all means – and who believe that the best way to pull this off is a good story, a narrative where characters come to life and do and say things that give us all a little jolt of recognition, a little burst of reflection… well, I’m tempted to say that those of us who like to tell stories can’t survive without an audience. That might be a little grandiose. Forgive me.
Hey, Thanksgiving is the holiday for grandiosity. Or at least it’s a time for effusive generosity and gratitude, which can look like grandiosity, and which is anyway how I am feeling today.
Personally, I had it covered earlier this week. Professionally, I have more people to thank. Readers. Commenters. Tweeters. Emailers. Goodreaders. Facebookers. Likers. Followers. Reviewers. Everyone else who has turned this lonely and isolated writer into one who can barely keep up with correspondence, who now starts each day with a fresh bit of feedback to keep me going, who has been challenged and criticized by some of the most intelligent, warm, and thoughtful voices on the Internet. Who has been encouraged, flattered, honored, and graciously received into many people’s homes, and minds, and hearts.
Okay, okay. It’s getting a little dusty here at Jacke’s place. I’m clearing my throat now! Time to set aside the sentiment. A game is on. There’s turkey to prepare. Relatives to hug. Neighbors to greet. A football to throw around the backyard. Long-distance calls to loved ones to make.
And then…a blog to get back to. Books to write. Covers to design. Comments to approve. Questions to answer. Ideas to reflect upon. Smiles and tears to experience. Even laughing out loud to the point of unfortunate accident. (My readers are simply the best.)
Everything in the first paragraph – all the real-world family matters – means everything in the world to me. And yet, I wouldn’t feel complete without the people described in the second. Without all of you.
I’ve prattled on long enough, and I’m in danger of making this a too-regular habit. Our next series should probably NOT be A History of Jacke in 100 Soppy Blogposts. But we’re not close to 100 yet. We’re probably only at about five or six.
Indulge me one more time. Just today.
And please accept my heartfelt thanks. To you, dear readers. To you, to you, to you. Thank you.
Addendum: Just got this comment from a reader:
Great blog and the comments make it doubly so.
Triply. Quadruply. Thanks, everyone!