Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Question That Always Makes Me Cringe

How I wish it went ...

A well-intentioned potential customer: You wrote a book?! What's it about?

Me: Well, you see ... *whips off imaginary glasses epically* The story begins hundreds of years into the future, when humans are thought to be extinct and elves rule most of the world. A young elf girl, unaware of that the humans still live, sets out on a journey for her father to the capitol city only be captured by the very people she believes to be nothing but a myth. She becomes a pawn in a great war between the humans and the elves, and she and a ragtag group of friends and allies must try to save their world before the warring races tear it apart. 

The well-intentioned potential customer: How exciting! I'll take five!

How it actually goes ...

A well-intentioned potential customer: You wrote a book?! What's it about?

Me: It's, um ... It's a young adult fantasy. You know, like Eragon and Lord of the Rings? It's kinda like that. Elves vs. humans and battles and stuff. 

The well-intentioned potential customer: ... Oh. Huh. 

What can I say? I'm a writer, not an orator. Ask me any question and give me paper, and I will write you an eloquent, polished, lengthy reply. Ask me a question and give me air, and I will stutter and stumble my way through a weak, awkward reply. It's just the way it is. I've often wondered what would happen if I carried around a white board and just wrote everything to people who spoke to me. They'd probably assume I was ill, but hey, at least I wouldn't stutter! And personally, I'd get along just fine if I never had to speak again (though I should be careful what I say, right?). My friend M.F., who is also a writer, and I were discussing / lamenting the fact that we both write so well but can never seem to speak in an impressive manner. What people who don't struggle with this problem don't understand is that our souls can be found at the tips of our fingers, not on the tips of our tongues—don't ever think you can learn everything about a writer by simply listening to him / her speak. If you truly want to know us, read what we write. We live between the midnight strokes of the pen; we live on the endless canvas of the blank page; we live in worlds you can't imagine because they belong solely to us, but we can give you a little glimpse by rearranging twenty-six little letters in a totally unique style. What you see and hear on the outside is not all there is to us, trust me. I stutter when I talk, but give me a keyboard or a pen and I can create universes with a few taps or strokes. 
Our Creator God, I firmly believe, has given we the writers a very small portion of His power to think worlds and peoples and creatures into being, and although they do not spring to life from nothing with a spoken word, they can roam freely on the creamy fields of the page and endure for centuries. It makes sense, doesn't it, that the Author of Life, the author of the greatest story ever told, would bless some of His children with a small measure of His infinite creativity? 

        So the next time you ask me what my book is about, go easy on me—and better yet, simply pick one of them up and let the summaries speak for themselves. Because the written word is powerful, and the pen is mightier than the sword, after all. And while I might stutter, I am made in the image of a creator and author who gave me a passion for creating unseen worlds and an ability to rearrange twenty-six little letters in a very unique way :) 

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