Writing is a lonely pursuit. You write and you write. You send your words out into the world. And then? Silence. Crickets. Unless you are lucky enough to do something like, in my case, the Breyerfest.
I imagine that anyone reading this blog knows about Breyerfest. If not, it’s a gathering — a pilgrimage some might say — of thousands of horse loving girls (and boys) and adults, who also love collecting Breyer horses, approximately 10-inch-long plastic horses with all kinds of life like details.
This year’s theme, “Off to the Races,” was a perfect fit for my book, Alexandra the Great. Even in the early days of researching and writing this story, my imagined audience was young girls who already love horses. Here was a story that could remind them that, just like horses are judged on their hard work and perseverance, so too could they. To keep running, even when some people might try to tell them they can’t. To keep running, even if some might suggest that girls don’t or shouldn’t run. To keep running, because they love it and they feel good and strong doing it. And you can of course replace “running” with whatever it is the reader loves: fighting for social justice, painting, conducting science experiments, whatever.
So when I learned about Breyerfest, I yearned to go there. There would be no better place to find my readers. I’d been looking forward to this event for almost a year. And I was right! It was everything I dreamed it would be.
Three days of telling Rachel’s story. Of connecting with others who loved Rachel. And the thrill of sharing Rachel’s story with those who didn’t know her. It was marvelous.
And then, the icing on the cake, and the reason I started this entry talking about the loneliness of writing: several people who bought the book one day, came back the next day to tell me they’d started it and they loved it. Several others sought me out after hearing my talk to thank me and tell me how much they enjoyed it.
Even if I don’t write to get those kinds of accolades, boy oh boy! Do they feel good!!!!!
I returned home happy, utterly exhausted, and determined to keep writing. I imagine, as the days go by and Breyerfest becomes a distant memory, I will still return to those few days and those kind people (why didn’t I collect emails!!) who encouraged and praised me. It feels good, I’m not gonna lie!