“My friends are my estate.”
This wonderful statement came to mind recently when my friend Betsy told me about a book she had read as a young girl that she absolutely adored. What she especially enjoyed about it was the friendship between the two girls in the story. Since I am thinking of creating a similar relationship in my YA novel, I found the book my friend had told me about in the library and devoured it.
What a treasure! There were elements of the book galore that I am analyzing right now to see how they worked so well and what I might apply to make my own novel stronger. The friendship between the girls; the quick, incisive way the author introduced the main character; the snappy dialogue; the lively, fast-moving plot; and the choice tidbits of detail that this wonderful author sprinkled throughout her story to add spice to it — are all strengths that I can not only admire, but aspire to emulate.
I’m so grateful to Betsy for telling me about the beloved book — it’s dropped into my lap as a gift just the right time to be helpful to me as I make my revisions. This precious present prompted me to think about all the many people who’ve shared beloved authors with me — and how much they’ve enriched my life.
Teachers introduced me to Hemingway, A.E. Houseman, Willa Cather, and so many other wonderful authors. My father sent me Jane Austen while I was at camp, and my mother gave me many spiritual books as gifts. A friend told me about the fabulous book Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and another friend turned me into a Kierkegaard reader. My son Alex’s enthusiasm for F. Scott Fitzgerald made me a fan. The list goes on and on.
In this world, there are so many distractions vying for our time and attention. We need to guard those precious hours we have to think and create. And yet, along with writing, there is nothing more vital to our growth as storytellers than reading. That’s why hearing about a book that made a difference in someone else’s life is such a gift. Write on!