Yesterday I got an uplifting reminder of why I do what I do.
What do I do?
I write, and I talk, about history – for a living. Yeah, I can hardly believe it either.
The common theme of my professional life is simple – tell good stories, hopefully about subjects most people are unfamiliar with. My passion is illuminating events, people, and the culture of the past into a forum that is accessible to almost everyone. Hopefully, to 1.) entertain, 2.) educate and 3.) enlighten.
Yesterday, I was at the Tri-County Literary Celebration at the Old Santee Canal State Park. Almost 100 authors (most of them regionally located) and their books, a cornucopia of literary diversity! I had just finished setting up my table when a family of four walked passed.
The daughter, who was appx. 11 years old, stopped at table and stared at one of my books (Kingdom By the Sea: Edgar Allan Poe’s Charleston Tales) with her jaw open. She grabbed her mother by the arm and excitedly said, “I’ve got that book in my room!!” She started jumping up and down. Then she looked at me. I asked her if she was a Poe fan, and she answered “Yes!”
For the next ten minutes I talked with her and her family, and we discussed Poe, and Charleston, history, writing and and of course, I informed the girl that at some point she should investigate at writer named H.P. Lovecraft. (Not sure her parents are gonna appreciate that later!)
Her parents ended up purchasing another copy of Kingdom By The Sea, which I personalized, and she insisted that we pose together for a photo.
All in all, it was 10 minutes of a long day in which I talked to hundreds of folks and sold dozens of books. But driving home that afternoon my mind kept returning to that first customer, that young girl with a passion for a book (my volume), and a writer (Poe, not me). It was a nice reminder that those of us who labor in often lonely trade of writing, that something we helped create and put out into the world affects others, and even if it was one 11-year old girl, it was worth the hours of work.