By R.E. Munzing, author and today’s guest blogger
I am the most unlikely of authors. I never planned or yearned to be one. I never honed my craft or did anything to become a better one. The pinnacle of my literary education came in tenth grade when I got a D+ in English because I was too busy reading science fiction books to pay attention. For thirty five years, I was a machine designer in Detroit and didn’t have to write anything. That career dried up as the jobs we drew with computers year after year were merely retrieved from memory banks and altered a little to fit the next year, replacing the need for us. Much of the rest of the work was outsourced to India, where The Man could get fifteen engineers for the price of paying me. The only job I could then get was in a gas station. So I decided to become an author.
I chose children’s books for two reasons. First, J.K. was getting a billion for her books, and after doing the math, even if my book was only three percent as good as hers, I’d still get thirty million. Second, how hard could it be to fool a bunch of kids into thinking I’m an author?
Having forgotten a lot of what little I learned in school, I consider myself to be the ‘rain man’ of writing. I do have occasional moments of brilliance that bubble out of the quagmire of my literary ignorance. I’m writelexic, dispunctional, and don’t know a subjunctive noun from a dangling partisupial. But now through the miracle of BQB (and a Fairy God Editor) I have written a book whose words will be a living testament forever in the Library of Congress that I did indeed exist on this planet.
All the authors at BQB have achieved this same immortal status, but that’s not the true value of our words. Nor is it found in how much money we will make. The true value is not in what we get: it’s in what we don’t get—we don’t get to see the value of our words as they come back to life every time our books are read, even long after we’ve passed on.
We don’t get to see the tears that stop flowing because parents are reading our books to their children, or the smiles the stories bring to their faces. We don’t get to see the burden lifted in the parents who have made their children happy through our storytelling, or the arguments they don’t get into later with their spouses because of that lifted burden. We don’t get to see the teens who escape into our fantasy worlds to find relief from the pressures of their world. We don’t get to see them later being nice to a sibling instead of mean, or the fight they didn’t get into the next day in school. We don’t get to see the hope or inspiration that others get from our words in their time of need. We don’t get to see the relief they spread to others because of those words. We don’t get to see the joy others get from wallowing in the words of our mysteries, love stories, and autobiographies. We don’t get to see them motivated to slog through another day in their struggle to stay afloat because of the break from reality our words give them. Words have the true butterfly effect on this planet, but we authors don’t often get to see it.
The true value in the amount of joy, relief, inspiration, knowledge, confidence, and pleasure our words bestow can never be known. But at least the words we pull from thin air and carve into stone in our books can’t be replaced by computers or someone overseas. Plus, we’ll always have that immortality thing.