2014-11-19 / County Lifestyles

Slice of Life Reader feedback of the best kind

By: Jill Pertler

It's not uncommon for readers to contact me and share tthoughts.h e iTheirr opinions can often be categorized one of two ways: love or hate. They either love a particular column, or they hate it. Which is pretty logical. You aren't compelled to react and respond and write unless you feel strongly about a topic.

But readers contact me for any number of reasons. They may email to offer advice on marriage or parenting or cooking or column topics they'd choose if they were me or grammar or skydiving or any of the many things I've yet to perfect in my life. I appreciate their thoughts. I can use all the help I can get.

It's good to hear from readers - even the ones expressing a negative reaction. ( Well, not really, but it would be politically incorrect to admit otherwise.) Feedback from real people in the real world makes writing a column tangible and legitimate, and I need those reminders sometimes.

I think most writers - make that all writers, no make that all people - experience brief moments or perhaps vast chasms of selfdoubt. I sit in the corner of my living room and hash out 600 words each week and wonder if it's enough. I wonder if it's worth it. I wonder if it's anything at all, really.

Is this honestly the extent of it - what I'm supposed to be doing right now?

Self-doubt. It's a fairly universal conundrum. At least I hope I'm not the only one.

I recently found myself in this chasm of conundrum: wondering about wondering and writing and words and columns and teen drivers and college costs and middle school math and the meaning of it all and anything and everything else I could come up with to worry about on that day at that moment.

And then the mail came, bringing with it a letter from a reader. I often hear from readers via email or Facebook or even at the grocery store. Receiving a letter is less common. But this particular letter was unique in a more important way.

It was written by a 96- year-old former teacher and librarian who possesses a self-professed love of poetry and prose. She shared anecdotes from her own life as they related to a recent column of mine and generously included a poem she'd written. She said she enjoys reading my columns and encouraged me to keep writing. Those were her exact words: "Keep writing."

I was touched.

A 96- year- old retired teacher and librarian with a depth of knowledge and life experiences too vast to contemplate or comprehend took the time to sit down, type a letter and share her thoughts and words of encouragement with little old me. Go figure.

Maybe 600 words a week is something after all.

Unfortunately this dear woman lives in another state, at least couple of chasms away from mine, so meeting her in person is unlikely. She signed her letter but didn't include an address, so I've no way of corresponding back to let her know how appreciated her kind words were and are. And, how they arrived on a day at a moment when I needed them most - when I was caught up in wondering and questioning all those things that create and complicate life, and her letter provided me with the answer I needed most. Keep writing.

Thanks Bernice, I think I will.

Jill Pertler is an awardwinning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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