NOTE: This is a re-posting of an old blog. I admired this woman when I wrote it and even more so today.
As social media buzzed with the fresh news this afternoon, I, along with writers and readers everywhere, found out that the extraordinaire crime fiction author Sue Grafton passed away after a two-year cancer battle. Initially as I read her daughter’s statement and learned Sue never completed her alphabet series, I was completely bummed for her. But then quickly my mindset changed. Z for Zero was a title she had for some time; was it one she came up with many years ago or once she realized she did not have the energy to finish the final book through her battle with cancer? It felt ironic in that moment when I realized she did finish. Z for Zero was finished. It was the perfect name for her perfect ending. Sue’s legacy will carry on forever through her words. I write in honor of her life tonight. #amwriting #author #writerslife #lovetowrite #motivated #suegrafton
Okay, so I do not have 30 novels published, I am not a bestselling author, or real far into my writing career.
But really, we are alike!
I had the honor to spend several days learning from her at a writing workshop and writing conference. While I would never wish the challenge of writing on anyone, it felt great being just like Sue Grafton and all other successful writers. I never realized until I heard her and others speak at a workshop about how writing is NEVER easy.
Not even for you? Whew! That means I am normal! And I truly do have a chance to have a book I write in my hands one day!
As Sue spoke, I took notes and wrote down even her littlest of quotes. She is pure blunt. She says it like it is. I love her outlook on life and her career. When she spoke about how writing was not easy and never has been, she mentioned how stressed she can get while writing but she shows up every single day.
Days into the conference, I walked by a huge line of fans waiting, arms with loads of books to be signed. I glanced to see who was signing and it was Sue. I did not have any books of hers with me but really wanted her autograph. Not because I have read all her books and have always been a huge fan, but because I was a new fan of her, personally. I wanted a reminder of how she has succeeded no matter her fears or stress or how hard it is to write, which means I can too. I wanted a reminder of her being my motivation in that moment. I wanted something to frame to put where I write.
I stood in line with my journal in hand with over 20 pages of handwritten notes from the workshop and panels I attended thus far. When I reached the front of the line and found myself face-to-face with Sue, I explained how I did not have a book for her to sign, but would love for her to sign my class notes and that I had included her quotes and advice. At first, I could not tell if she thought I was nuts or it was just so out of the norm, but she smiled and was kind and asked me where she should sign.
I quickly fumbled through the pages finding the “Sue” page. I aggressively pointed and said, “Right here!” The quote was, “Sit in your room and suffer! referring to even when you are stuck, lock yourself in your room and make it happen. This stood out when she said it a few days before. And to top it all off, she complimented me about MY handwriting!
So, I have learned that Sue Grafton and I have a lot in common: the fear of writing but even more the love and passion for the craft that nothing will keep us from producing our best work.
Thank you, Sue, for opening my eyes to having a chance just like every published author I met or saw this past week.
And best of luck with X. I know the story will come to you soon… just like mine will to me.
Time for me to go and sit in my room and suffer.