Companionship in Books -- Guest Blogger Daron Fraley
One of the things I dearly love about this blog is the incredible people I've met in cyberspace. If you have ever written a compelling comment -- or even resembled Vivien Leigh in your photo -- I have almost certainly attempted to track you to the ends of the earth. Well . . . perhaps not the ends, but I have ended up as far afield as Saudi Arabia and Beijing. So fun!
I found Daron Fraley a little closer to home than Asia, I think. I may be wrong. To tell you the truth, I have no idea where the man lives! But I do know from what I have read of his work thus far that as a writer he inhabits strange worlds of marvelous works and wonders. He is also a heck of a nice guy. When I tracked him down to ask him to guest blog, he readily agreed -- and without calling me a stalker and/or taking out a cyber-restraining order. When I asked for a picture, however, he was a little more coy -- right up until I said, "Never mind. I have a great picture of a duck I can use instead." Within a couple of hours I had a picture. This, clearly, is a man of reason and wisdom. (I hope. I can only assume that the mug shot really is Daron. For all I know, it might have come from the same file as Spencer McKay's.) At any rate, I very much enjoyed the blog he sent and I think you will too.
Companionship in Books
by Daron D. Fraley
As I have personally gone down the path of trying to scratch an itch . . . one that began in the Cody Junior High School library many years ago, I have realized that it is not just a need to read good books that I desire to satisfy, but also a need to write something worthy of sitting on the shelves next to those bound volumes that have lifted my spirits, taught me something, caused me to look inwardly at the person that I currently am, and helped me on my journey of becoming the person I wish to to be.
I have been engaged once again in that process of writing. It started about 5 years ago after many years of reflecting on the enjoyment I had once had when fulfilling writing assignments at school. My Creative Writing teacher in High School was especially helpful in lighting the ember. I am thankful it never fully went out during those quiet, seemingly non-creative years.
When I thought about this adventure I have embarked on once again, I connected a few things together in my mind that had not been connected before. Let me see if I can explain what I noticed without getting too "wordy" (that is what my wife calls it).
Quite a few years ago, I sat in an interview with a Stake Presidency member that I admired a great deal. At the end of the interview, he and I chatted a few minutes about where I was serving in the Ward. I was either serving as Gospel Doctrine Teacher or Early Morning Seminary Teacher, and I cannot exactly place the time because I don't believe this experience made it as an entry in my journal. Needless to say, the discussion gave me a unique opportunity to share something with him that I had not planned. In fact, once I had said it, I really hoped it didn't sound like I was jealous of him, because my intent was to express sincere admiration for who he was as a person. I said something to the effect of, "President, I'll bet that your association with the Stake President, the other counselor, the High Council, and other stake officers is really choice to you. What a wonderful blessing it must be to associate with the very best men and women of the Stake on such a frequent basis! I think you are all wonderful!" He was gracious, and replied that it truly was a great blessing in his life.
I have thought of that conversation several times over the years, and have come to the conclusion that the impressions I had that day were far from jealousy, but rather they were simple yearnings to also associate myself with the best men and women I could in the world. I have tried to make myself the best self that I can be so that those opportunities are available to me, and they have been.
I now hear voices in my head: "But this commentary has been all about service in the Church? What does that have to do with writing?"
Let me see if I can make the connection.
Did you ever notice that the very best in any field seem to flock to each other like birds? OK, that is a reference to a trite cliché, but it works. It is true. Those that are competent in any field are drawn to each other. They are also drawn to those that are competent in other fields of study or profession. It is comfortable and rewarding to be in association with the best men and women you can find.
I suppose that I should have expected this in the LDS writing community, but I just didn't. It surprised me! I am not sure why . . . Perhaps I expected published authors to be, well . . . reclusive. You know, like other artists. Eccentric. A bit aloof. Perhaps even strange. What I found was quite the opposite. Blogs! Blog after blog after blog. Forums. Places to chat. The openness of it all thrilled me.
But then I thought: "This is just marketing. I am in marketing, of sorts. I have customers. I need to network with them, and get my name out. Yes, do a great job for them so that they will tell their friends! Be nice to them, even on days when they get on my nerves. That is what these authors are doing. They are using blogs and websites to spread the word about their product. They are extending professional courtesy to each other by reviewing each other's books, and by posting links to them."
Then came the question: "How do I get in that club? I know I need to get published, but once the book hits the shelves, how do I convince one of these famous authors (after all, anybody who has published a book, even just one, must be famous) to let me into that club?"
Must be the publishers. They must arrange it.
Then my eyes were opened. I started reading all of those blogs. I looked for more. Wow! There are a lot of them!
It was during the reading of those blogs that I was very impressed. I recognized that these famous authors whom I have never met, are excited for each other. They talk about it! They go to conventions together. They post on each other's blogs. They even sound sincere.
Ah . . . the Companionship of Books. Books draw people together. Even author peoples. It is something I had never even supposed. I have chatted with a few of you "published authors". Several of you have taken the time to answer questions. I admire that greatly. Thank you for being kind to me.
Here is a treat for you. Check out this site that I found while "framing my thoughts" around this subject. I think it is quite extraordinary. This comes from an online antique seller. It seems as though there is an old book, published in 1884, running around somewhere with some great wisdom in it about books and people.
When you're through there, check out Daron's blog HERE.
Thanks, Daron! I'm so glad we met here in Frogblogland. The rest of you: consider yourselves warned. I may not have found you yet, but I will!