Once upon a time I was at a book signing in Michigan, hanging with the inimitable Rob Stennett. He and I had been relegated to the book signing equivalent of the kiddie-table–which simply means all the multi-published, big-time, somewhat famous authors with actual fans congregated around the main table. The closer to this central hub you were located, the more published, big-time, and/or famous you were. Rob and I were seated in the next zip code.
Anyhow, this very nice lady made eventually made her way to the end of the line and began saying, “Snyder, Snyder, which one is Snyder?”
I believe Rob and I had the same idea–that we would pretend he was me and see if we could make things a bit more interesting. But thankfully, we behaved.
Then the very nice lady then began to tell me a story. What has become one of my all-time faves.
To paraphrase, she indicated that her son had allowed life and circumstances and a lack of confidence to stunt his emotional growth. He had dropped out of college and was settling for dead end jobs. I’m guessing this resulted in a lot of spare time. So his mom decided to give him a copy of my first novel to help fill it. She said that he loved the story, couldn’t put it down. She went on to say that he was so inspired by it, that he began to read more widely and more often. This newfound love of reading led him to re-enroll in college and get his life back on track.
I felt like Costanza, tempted to leave on a high note.
It really is hard for me to retell this story without getting choked up. I know that sounds sappy. I realize it would be much more dramatic if the son–the real hero of the story–started out on death row, or was at least dealing crack in dark alleys before his newfound love for literature culminated in a college scholarship and eventually being short-listed for a Pulitzer.
It was his reading, perhaps even his writing, that led to the change. My writing was simply the spark.
Still, I can’t really explain how humbling it is that something I conjured up and scribbled down may have actually helped change a life.
So what about you? Inspired anyone lately, intentional or not? Been inspired? Have a writing story of your own you’d like to share?