A young gentleman approached me in the bookstore this afternoon. He asked if I was Paul, and after I nodded, he asked what my book was about.
His question caught me off guard. Although this was a customer I have seen regularly (he tends to come in during the late afternoon to read), I was stumped to learn he knew I was writing a book. I assumed he overheard me talking or glanced at my laptop and put two and two together. I later learned a barista outed me as the "local writer" - a label I find both complimentary and confounding.
Since rudeness is not in my DNA, I entertained his inquiries and we had a nice conversation. He expressed an interest in my writing and subject matter of my book. Since I was in a mood where I felt like talking, he lucked out and caught me on a good day. Our discussion escalated when my teaching career inspired the book, and he mentioned he'd be starting college as an Elementary Education major.
The guy made several comments that reminded me of myself six years ago. Had I closed my eyes and listened only to the words, I could swear it was me speaking. Our philosophy and ideas are similar. His passion and enthusiasm for education was evident; he was entering this journey with the right attitude - for all the right reasons. I hope someone gives him a chance. It will not be an easy road, but I wish him well.
On my drive home, I thought about our conversation on a deeper level. As writers, we put great effort into building our platform. We blog and tweet and interact on facebook. We join critique groups and attend conferences. But nine times out of ten, we are interacting with other writers.
Today, I interacted with a potential reader, and realized this is a population I don't pay enough attention. Should my novel ever land shelf space in that same bookstore, he might see it and remember me. That could prompt him to read it. If he likes it, he might tell a friend. That's cool to think about.
Social media is a great tool for writers. Nobody will deny that. But, we must remember the benefits of face-to-face contact - with fellow writers and readers. You never know when you're speaking to someone who will love your story as much as you do. The person I met today is on my side. He gave me hope that an audience is out there waiting to read my words.
It was a good day.
Oh, and if anyone is interested, this is my 100th post. Umm...yay?