On Gratitude

At book signings and when I chat with people about my writing, they often ask what inspires my ideas or generates my stories. I wish I had a simple answer for them, but a complex set of circumstances flow into every novel, every character, and every story I have ever told or will tell. One consistent notion weaves its way through all of them, though, so I wanted to write a bit about it today. No matter the context, whether in writing about horror, a relationship, humor, or just mundane life, all of my scenes and creations contain some element of emotion, some fundamental human feeling that begins in me and flows into my fiction.

I thought of this fact amid a week of feeling a great deal of gratitude. So, first – the context. The gratitude sprung stronger than usual this week because of a variety of circumstances. Last week, Paul and I spent time with dear friends, hanging at their house on a lake – I was so grateful for the love, companionship, laughter, and friendship. I also had gratitude for Paul as my husband as we celebrated his birthday. Then I scheduled a trip over the holidays to visit my family in Colorado, and felt an intense sense of gratitude for the love we share with one another and what that time together will mean. Getting back to work after the long summer, I felt gratitude for my colleagues, and reconnecting with them.

And the gratitude almost overwhelmed me in the interaction I had with someone because of a professional blunder that I made. It was my mistake, made inadvertantly, but an embarrassing one that could have become unethical because it potentially violated a signed contract. I immediately reached out to the person who would oversee the consequences, because the contract for the work was with that person. I laid out what happened, and why. I expressed my humiliation at having made the error, and gave a sincere apology. And that person simply forgave me and offered a more than kind and generous solution, and pacified everything. I was literally in tears when I read the response. If only humans could treat each other as I was treated in that moment.

And all this gratitude will work its way into my writing. I don’t know when. Or how. But the emotion was so intense and strong this week, it will reappear for me. It’s something I love about writing. And I hope in some way I convey that to readers, and through my novels they feel it, too.

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