“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you do, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”–Maya Angelou
This here quote from Maya Angelou is pretty iconic; at least I have been seeing it pop up a lot lately and I was fairly familiar with it for a good portion of my time here on this planet. But, for some reason, the other night, when I came across it posted over at Mark., it struck me in a new way I never expected. Obviously, most people take it into the context of how they interact with other people, as they should, but I realized the most effective meaning of it for me is tied in with my writing.
Ultimately, all I care about is how my writing makes a person feel. While it would be nice if they didn’t, they can forget exactly what I said, what I created, what techniques I used or what words I put together, as long as they remember how the words made them feel. And I hope they make the reader feel joy and happiness and sadness. I hope they feel an incredible, lingering connection to their soul that sticks with them long after they set the book down, staying there in their hearts and minds even if they’re not consciously aware of it. And then, when they hear my name or see my books, they remember those feelings fondly.
Some of the best response I’ve gotten from my work involve a short story that appear in Bowlful of Bunnies entitled “Lilacs.” Many people have told me how well the story portrays a palpable sense of melancholy and sadness, in a way that lingered and settled and stuck with them. Never have I been more proud of my own work than those moments. Or when “Bridge over the River Yuanfen,” from the same collection, elicited a similar response from someone, though the story itself is a mere three paragraphs long. Knowing the my words can leave a mark on my reader’s thoughts and memories like that is one of the most rewarding parts of being an author. It truly, truly is about how we make someone feel.