Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Unexpected Side of Being Published

When I wrote CRACKED, I dreamed of important strangers reading and connecting to it (agents and editors).

When I landed my agent, and she sold CRACKED, I dreamed of other important strangers reading and connecting to it (readers).

The reader response to CRACKED has been overwhelmingly positive, and for that I am grateful. Important strangers are connecting to Victor and Bull. The unexpected side of being published is that some readers are connecting in profound ways.

Last week I discovered a message on facebook. By "discovered" I mean that it sat unnoticed in the dreaded "other" section of my messages. But I found it and I read it and I was stunned.

An important stranger connected.

*I asked for and obtained permission from this "important stranger" to share this correspondence here.


Dear Miss Walton,

I just finished your book about 5 minutes ago, Cracked, I breezed through it in about 2 days, even with school I could hardly put it down.

Funny cause I can relate to Victor in some ways which is weird, and the book opened up many things. Thank you.

I recently, a couple weeks back in February, spent 11 days in the ward for the same reasons, and well, every aspect of the ward in your book was the same as the one I was in. Although each patient had their own room and washroom there was still the crazy eights and common room and cafeteria and such.

The weirdest thing happened too, there was this girl, she’d been in some of my classes and we had opinions about each other; to her I was annoying, and well, weird and not a good person. And to me she was a royal, well, I shouldn’t say “bitch” but she was to me back then, and she was a free and popular person to a bottom feeder like myself.

When I walked into the ward there she was, kinda like Bull was when Victor walks in. I laughed at the irony I swear! Things changed in my 11 days in the ward. We never had any violent outbreaks. Well maybe one, but it was still the same. This book brought back a piece of the hope that maybe in the end of everyone’s story there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to wait for it.

Thank you,
(Name withheld) 

Besides the way the writer ingeniously wove in two sayings from the novel ("I swear!" and "bottom feeder"), my very favorite sentence of this extraordinary letter is the last: "This book brought back a piece of the hope that maybe in the end of everyone’s story there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to wait for it." 


The thing is, hope commands a certain reverence. It's the Professor Snape of emotions: imposing and firm, yet motivated by love. For when a human being feels hope--genuine palpable hope--the empowerment alone can pull us from the hole. Hope is the light. 

To think a story I created gave this important stranger hope, is rather humbling. Thank you, reader, thank you.

PS A closing thought: to anyone reading this, I challenge you to see the invisible people in your lives. The person no one talks to, the person who sits alone in the lunch room, etc.... See them. Acknowledge them. Smile at them. Basic human kindness goes a long way.