Did you know that Facebook filters messages from people you aren't friends with into a secret "Other" folder? Yeah, neither did I until I read something about in on the Huffington Post tonight. So I dipped into my Other folder to see if randos had been sending me any messages... and I found an outpouring of acknowledgment and congratulations from when I had an essay published in the New York Times last year.
Reading these comments from people I don't know who had taken the time to seek me out on Facebook and drop a few lines of encouragement brought the whole NYT experience rushing back. It was definitely one of the coolest and most overwhelming things that has ever happened to me. And, on day two of my four-day weekend, when I have done anything and everything to avoid writing (cleaning, quilting, redecorating, etc.), it reminded me of what I love about writing in the first place.
There is nothing more humbling and exhilarating than to know that something you written has created an emotional connection between you and a reader, whether that person is someone you see on campus every day or someone who lives halfway across the world. I had the extraordinary opportunity to connect with an enormous number of people, and some of them reached back to let me know that my words had been heard. I am so grateful, and so mortified that I didn't receive their messages until 18 months after they were sent.
So, tonight, I am going to respond to each of those wonderful strangers. And then I am going to open up a blank Word document, turn on my brain, and try to write something new, to hopefully reach them again.