My writer-hero, Tiffany Reisz, has posted a lovely letter on her blog to thank her readers for their support, to mark the day she wrote the ending of her epic erotic series, The Original Sinners.
These books were my dream. Not the money they’ve made me or the friends they’ve made me or the lifestyle they’ve afforded me or even that they got me out of almost $60,000 in crushing student loan debt. The books themselves were the dream and because of you all, my readers, my Sinners, I got to write them. You see, if a writer wants to eat, he or she has to write books people will buy. If you all hadn’t supported the books with all the love and devotion and money (yay money!) you had, I wouldn’t have been able to write this huge sweeping series I’d dreamed of writing all those years ago when I was making $5.15 an hour working at Books-A-Million in Owensboro, Kentucky and scribbling scenes of THE SIREN on the back of flyers while standing at the registers surrounded by books other people had written and dreaming of the day my own books would be on those shelves.
If you’re a writer, you know about those dreams. You ARE those dreams. Some days I am afraid that all I am is dreams, that my husband will discover one day that he’s married some dreams instead of a real person, and that all he has to show for it are two rings hanging in midair on the couch beside him (although if that does happen, at least he’ll finally be able to put his feet up).
In one of the Original Sinners books, there is a Catholic saint – Saint Monica – who features not quite prominently, but significantly. On my travels in the last few months, I found myself at her tomb. I’m nominally Catholic myself (like most Irish people my age, I don’t practice. Unlike most Irish people my age, I feel a cultural link with the Church. The spiritual side of things I have not quite unravelled yet) but St. Monica had eluded me. We have a lot of saints. I can’t know them all. I have enough trouble remembering how many people St. Patrick was. I discovered St. Monica through Tiffany Reisz.
I stumbled upon St. Monica’s tomb by accident. Walking around Rome on a bruised foot, I went inside the Basilica of Sant’Agostino without the barest clue what it was (or for that matter where it was) because the charming cobbled streets were absolutely killing me and I wanted a break. I was entranced by the Caravaggio. I looked around the rest of the church for its beauty, then I found Saint Monica, and I remembered Original Sinners.
I lit a candle in front of the tomb, and said a prayer for writers everywhere.
Because a woman working in a bookstore, making $5.15 an hour, scribbled on some flyers and stuck with her scribbling, another woman, eleven years later, stood in a church thousands of miles from Kentucky, giving a shit about stuff she might otherwise never have given a shit about, and walked around Europe with a small smile. And then she went for ice-cream and thought about the many strange and magical ways that art can connect us all.