Something really lovely happened yesterday on Facebook. Someone posted talking about how a story had helped her get through a difficult week. The story was mine. That’s cool in and of itself–I think all authors want to know that their stories have the power to make a difference for someone–but the timing could not have been better.
Recently one of my Japan friends e-mailed me. We met when I was living in Small Japanese Town, and he was one of the 9 other foreign English teachers in my town. While he was in our town, he was a driving social force, organising get togethers, fun outings, even fundraising in response to the Tohoku earthquake. He was pretty much my exact opposite in every way, extremely social where I am extremely introverted, but we became friends, and his opinion meant a lot to me, even after he returned to his home country.
My friend has very strong opinions, and he’s not shy about expressing them. One of his comments made me rethink writing, and made me realise that there is a real need for stories with fully realised LGBTQ characters. He put me on the path I am today. I owe him so much. I don’t think I would have ever found the confidence to write, to accept who I am and to leave a job and living situation that was making me unhappy without him–and I really struggled to find the courage to tell him what I write and why. His opinion matters so much that I really didn’t know if I could cope with his disapproval.
Well, early this week, I decided it was time. Friend’s e-mail had been sitting in my inbox for ages, while I considered my reply. It was time to tell him everything–what I write, why and how he influenced me. I hit send and spent a day and a half anxiously checking my e-mail.
Turns out I needn’t have worried. Friend was touched to know that he’d had such a big impact on me, and was so encouraging. He had no idea his words that day had such a big impact–and he shared the story of the random encounter with an old friend that had led to him going to Japan in the first place.
It’s not just authors or teachers who make a difference in people’s lives. Anyone can–and it seems that often it happens without us even being aware of it when it does. Take heart, knowing that you’ve played an important part in someone else’s story–and maybe take the time to thank someone who has played a special part in yours.