Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing my friend Nancy’s daughter take part in an evening of Shakespeare monologues. Melissa’s performance was lovely and it was a great night out – a welcome break from sitting at my desk!
Before the show began, our little party sat at the bar of a small cozy restaurant having wine and a snack. Since Nancy and I are in a writing group together, not surprisingly, our talk turned to books. Nancy’s mom, Marie, is an avid reader and belongs to a book club. She’s been reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and thinks it’s terrific. I started telling her a story about the book’s title and then one about naming my book, Birthing the Elephant (see Title Search).
Whoops! I was so caught up in sharing these writing tidbits that I missed a precious opportunity. Instead of talking, I should have been listening. Right in front of me was a prize beyond rubies — an avid, book-clubbing reader with very specific likes and dislikes. What a treasure! Instead of chattering away, I should have mined for gold. Marie has been in a reading group for years. She adored The Stone Cutter and told me I should get it. Just imagine the priceless information I might have discovered if I’d just asked her “What did you love so much about it? What made it such a great read?”
When interviewing women entrepreneurs for Birthing the Elephant, two questions always sparked the liveliest answers: “What was the smartest thing you did when you started?” followed by “Now tell me, what was the dumbest thing you did, the biggest mistake you made?” Next time I meet a devoted reader like Marie, I’m going to ask, “What’s the best book you’ve read lately and why did you love it so much?” And then I’ll ask,” What was the worst thing you read recently and why was it so bad?” And then I’ll listen — and learn.