What’s my legacy?

Last week, as I was leaving my day job after a particularly difficult shift, I shared an elevator with a fellow nurse. She asked me how my day went, and I told her it had been a rough one. I queried her in return, and she told me hers had been challenging too: one of her favorite patients died at the age of 48. I’ll be 48 on my next birthday.

Her simple words quickly reminded me of how lucky I am to have my health, a good-paying job and a clean, safe home where my small family waits for me.

I thought a lot about that elevator conversation, and it spurred me to think more about my legacy as a writer. Recently, I stumbled upon a website about Victoria Holt, a romance writer who died in 1993 and wrote more than 200 books. Her fans built the website as a tribute to her after her death. Can there be any higher praise?

As a writer, I spend a lot of time – dare I say waste? – looking for validation by either selling lots of books or collecting five-star reviews. But, really, is that what matters?

I write because I have stories I want to tell. I have characters whose voices I hear loud and clear, and if I don’t share their stories, then those characters wane and fade away. And I believe each of my books has one reader it’s meant for – either to entertain or to reassure that they are not alone in their struggle. I don’t write about popular girls; I never was one. I don’t write about wealth; I’ve never known it. I write about working-class heroines who struggle to make ends meet and build a home for themselves and those they love. Not a lot of glamour in that.

There are certain things I can control on this journey. I control the quality of my storytelling. As an indie author, I choose my cover art and hire an editor and proofreader. I choose the actors who record my audiobooks, and I schedule the date my books publish.

But there are certain things I cannot control. I’ve queried numerous agents and editors and received many no-thank-yous. I’ve submitted my books time and time again to the biggest promotion site available, and I hear no. I refuse to pay for reviews, so my books will never be featured in Publishers Weekly or RT Magazine. None of that matters.

What matters to me is this: I want to be known as a writer who helps other writers. I want to be known not for the bucket loads of books I sell but for the encouragement and boost-up I give to my fellow wordsmiths.

So, with that goal in mind, I signed up to host other writers on Great Escapes Book Tours. On Friday, I share a post by Janice Peacock, who writes A Glass Bead Mystery series. She talks about romance and her newest book, A Bead in the Hand. On Sunday, I host Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband-and-wife team who wrote Gone by Midnight, a collection of short mystery stories. If my meager efforts help these authors sell a few books, that’s great. If those sales encourage them to keep writing, that’s even better.

I can’t think of a better legacy.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Welcome, Janice Peacock.


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