You, the writer in the back of the room at Muse in the Marketplace's Agent Idol this weekend. You who carefully typed up the first page of this, your first novel, spell checked it three times, read it aloud at least twice, and then printed out three copies with no name on it just to make sure you'd have the one you needed. You carefully placed it in the basket with pages from all the other people. I couldn't see if you said a quick prayer for mercy; it certainly wouldn't have been out of place.
Then you sat in the back of the room and you listened. You listened while your page was read aloud and three of us critiqued it in front of a hundred people. Yours may have been the one where we stopped the reader after one sentence and said things like "cliche" "dreams" "sleeping" "driving" and then wagged our fingers.
Yours might have been the one where we debated about how much detail is too much, or the one that was good but not good enough. Yours might have been the one where we said "been there, done that. You're a good writer who needs a new topic."
You listened, and you didn't scream. You listened and you didn't stomp out of the room murmuring "troglodyte." You bound up those thousand small cuts, and thanked us for our help.
You were gracious when it would have been really easy not to be.
You were gracious enough to thank us for coming to Boston, for critique your work, to talk on panels.
In fact, it is I who must thank you.
I've said it before, and I'm saying it again here. I'm profoundly grateful for those of you who write. Your work, your effort to improve, your willingness to listen and try again, all those things allow me to earn a living and live in the city I love more than any other.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.