In 2011 I had the chance to meet Jan Karon–one of my favorite authors–and she was every bit as delightful as I hoped. Yesterday I had a chance to see her again and although she didn’t grab me and say she remembered me from that one, brief encounter three years ago, she was still as charming as ever.
While I have a LONG way to go before I have as many fans as Jan (like a really, really, really long way), I do have a little bit more insight into what it’s like to be an author than I did on that June evening in 2011. I loved Jan then for being charming, gracious, and kind while sharing her faith in the most natural way. And I still do, but here’s what really knocks my socks off about her.
She loves her fans as much as they love her.
I’ve done just a couple of events and they are exhilarating and exhausting. Interacting with a roomful of people: smiling, signing books, hugging, shaking hands, trying to speak coherently–even on a small-scale–will wear you out. Yesterday, Jan did it for an hour and a half and was just as gracious to the person having the hundred-somethingth photo taken as she was with the first.
That takes two things. Stamina and love.
Jan Karon appreciates her readers. And, after all, aren’t readers kind of the point? I think it’s fine if you write just for yourself. Keep a journal, keep a diary, write down things you want to revisit down the road . . . But I suspect most authors want to tell people something. A passionate reader is like that person who sits down and listens–really listens–to what you have to say. And then her eyes light up and she says, “Oh, I know just what you mean.” Or maybe she says, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s really interesting.” Or, best of all, “Wow, I’m going to look at the world just a little bit differently now.”
Jan Karon has passionate fans. We’re hanging on every word. And Jan appreciates that. She’s grateful. And there are few things in this world more lovely than a grateful heart.