Would you like to know what I believe is my greatest accomplishment as a writer? It's not a book I've written, or an award. As nice as those are, there's something far more important. It's people.
1) I wouldn't tell this story if the person in question hasn't been open about it, but a few years ago someone read The Telling and wrote to tell me how much they loved it. It was their first gay romance. We exchanged emails and I discovered that he, like me, had been discouraged and told he could never write. I told him that if he was a writer, nothing could stop him. He disappeared for awhile and came back to ask, "Would you like to read my book?" He's now a very prolific and successful author in our genre. I get happy tears in my eyes just thinking of him. We've met in person and I finally got to meet this amazin writer face to face.
2) Well over a dozen years ago, I wrote fanfiction, and struck up a friendship with other people on the forum. Two in particular: one from the other side of the country, another from Canada. We spoke often through emails and messaging. Since then, they've both been guests in my home, and I've stayed with them. We went from online friends, to friends who hang out whenever possible. It's rare that we don't message each other at least once per day.
3) I've met an author from China who wound up living thirty minutes from me, and we became good friends and crit partners.
4) Two other authors and I had weekend getaways. They've also visited me in my home. I cherish those memories. During our weekends together we wrote down anything said that could be considered even slightly dirty. At the end of the weekend, we'd choose a phrase that we'd all include in our next book. Now you know where the Bo and Lucky line, "Pop my cork, big boy," came from.
5) Three of the authors mentioned above attended my wedding. A fourth couldn't make it due to bad whether.
6) I've bought muscadines for a writer friend from Germany when we met in Atlanta, and got to hug her in real life instead of just signing my emails, "Hugs, Eden."
7) I've received cards, gifts, and a chocolate care package from people I've met through my writing.
8) A reader wrote to me saying she had bought my book not knowing it was gay romance, and was shocked at first, but then read on because she'd become engaged with the characters. She said it opened her eyes to issues faced by the GLBTQIA community.
9) I've heard from veterans who served in the military back when they feared someone finding out their sexuality. One man narrowly escaped expulsion from the Army. I encouraged them to write their stories, and I certainly hope they did.
I have a friend that I love dearly, who often shared stories about the hardships of being gay. Once day he said, "You'll never understand my world." His words hurt me, because I love him and genuinely wanted to understand. So I set out to educate myself.
I read, I studied, and fell in love with the gay romance genre. The Telling was my first novel, a therapy book in which I worked out issues in my life and dealt with the topics of what I was raised to believe, and what I now knew to be right. It is that book that set all the above into motion.
I dedicated the book to my friend. He now happily tells people of my writing and the part he played.
My self-education led me to PFLAG, where I served on the council of the local chapter, and was elected Vice President. I've handed out PRIDE Guides at parades and otherwise donated time to a cause I'm passionate about.
And you can better believe I'm dressed in purple on Spirit Day, and will happily explain to others the significance. I've also found so many good causes to support: The Trevor Project, PFLAG, youth shelters...
So, my greatest accomplish as a writer is how much I've grown, the priviledge of, even if in a small way, making a difference. And the people I've come to know and love.
Awards and good reveiws are amazing.
Love and understanding is better.