It was a short, simple, but very kind note. He didn't have to leave it, but he did, and for that, he made my day.
All too often, people seem to feel the need to leave comments on news sites or blogs that are full of negativity, full of vitriol and hate, and are aimed to make the writer or a group of people feel bad.
Thankfully, that hasn't happened to me. Not often.
No, my blog posts get largely unnoticed by the trolls, rarely have any comments left behind. If there is any feedback, it's positive.
I'm lucky that way. Thank you to all who have reached out.
But the message that I received on the weekend was not left on my blog, nor passed to me through Twitter or Facebook. It was sent to me through my photo meetup group by a fellow member.
We had last attended a Milky Way photo shoot, though I'm not sure if we chatted. I did say hello and made some initial small talk with some of the other photographers, as we set up our tripods and aimed our cameras skyward. But a friend soon joined the group, and he and I tended to chat just among ourselves for the rest of the evening.
It's the first photo meetup that I attended, where the leader didn't introduce himself nor was there a general assembly. We just arrived and got to the task at hand.
Anyway, this gentleman from that event sent me a message through the group, and it made my day. He told me that he had recently checked a book out from the Ottawa Public Library and he was enjoying the first few chapters, when he noticed the photo on the back cover of the author and realized that he had seen that photograph before. The author was looking straight at the camera but was sipping from a coffee cup, hiding the lower-half of his face.
The photo was of me and it's the same photo that I use for my profile in our meetup group.
He contacted me to let me know that he was surprised that he knew the author and that he didn't realize it was my book when he checked it out. He added that he was enjoying the story, so far, and that the reason that he had chosen the book to read was because his daughter was travelling and had taught English for four years, in Daejon, which is a city that is only an hour north of where I lived, in Jeonju. I had visited Daejon many times and mention it in the book.
I replied to him, thanked him for his kind words, but I failed to mention that his message had made my day for two reasons: one, of course, was that he sent his message and it was a pleasant surprise to learn that someone was reading and enjoying my story. The other reason that I was placed in such a great mood was to learn that the OPL actually had my novel on their shelves.
In a (small) way, it was a validation of my work. I never intended to write a best-seller nor make a lot of money from Songsaengnim (so far, I'm a long way from either), but I wanted to tell that story and put it out there for people to read. To know that anyone can go to the library and read my book is a big deal for me.
I went to the OPL Web site to look for my book, and found out that all copies are currently checked out. My first thought was that they have only one copy, and that my fellow photog is currently in possession of said copy.
That's okay. I also see that someone has also placed it on hold (it's not me).
I still have a few autographed copies, for sale, if you're interested. Once I run out of them, I won't be ordering any more. You'll have to go to Chapters, or Indigo, or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.
Or to the Ottawa Public Library.