Songs Unheard, Books Unread: If Not for Readers

When I was fresh out of college, the only thing I wanted to do was sing. I knew that eventually I would want to write my stories, but first I ached to sing them. After several years of struggling in the New York scene, and singing only occasionally in various clubs, I came to realize that creating music meant that there had to be ears to hear it. Otherwise, my songs were nothing more than abstractions created in isolation, floating in the air with no place to land, to be made real.

I left New York, and in a round-about way (too complex to go into here), I finally ended up creating my stories in words and in pictures. But, like my music, my stories need ears and eyes – an audience of readers and viewers – to truly come alive for me.

"Joe Joe" by Sally Wiener GrottaI now realize how lucky I have been that people have found (and, I’m told, enjoyed reading, viewing and learning from) my articles, books and pictures over the years. They’ve certainly been generous with their appreciation (and criticisms) of my work. The thing is that folks are used to me as a non-fiction writer and fine art narrative photographer. I’m now expanding my palette into fiction. I have three novels in various stages – “Jo Joe” is being edited, “The Winter Boy” will be going into edit in about a month, and I’m in the middle of the first draft of “Dream A Little World.”

Will all those lovely folks who have been so supportive of my non-fiction and photography follow me into fiction? Or, will my novels, like my songs, remain largely a dream of mine with no audience and no life beyond my heart pounded out on my keyboard?

This came to mind yesterday when I took a break from working on “Dream A Little World” to read two very different pieces: Dan Blank’s blog on Top 2 Reasons No One Will Buy Your eBook and Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum’s June message in this month’s Congregation B’nai Harim’s newsletter.

Dan Blank reminded me that the biggest investment that a reader makes in a book isn’t the cover price (which can be quite reasonable these days, when you’re talking about eBooks). No, it’s the “5 or 10 hours or more” they spend to read the book.

And Rabbi Peg wrote about being more fully aware, to feel awe, show gratitude. “One way,” she said, “is to notice just one person who has done wonderful things for your sake and to acknowledge your debt to that person.”

If it weren’t for readers, my stories would be unsung and unheard, not fully born. Thank you for making the investment in me these many years, and taking the time to read and comment on my non-fiction, to enjoy my art.

Now, if you’d give me one chance – one 5 to 10 hours (or more) of your time – to read one of my novels when they are available (“Jo Joe” is scheduled to be released this summer), it would be not only an investment of your time but a gift to me – helping me bring my stories out of the realm of the possible to where they might yet take root. Besides, I do believe that, if you have enjoyed and learned from my non-fiction and art, you will enjoy my flights of imagination and the characters who have come alive within it, too.

Thank you, Sally

P.S. If you are interested in being a beta reader for “Jo Joe,” please let me know, and I’ll send you a free pre-release eBook once it comes out of editing. My only request is that you give me honest feedback on it. SWG

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