I’ve been visiting with a lot of book clubs lately and am often asked how I feel about meeting with book-club members as they discuss and ask questions about Yonder Side. Whether it’s in-person, on speaker-phone, or video-streamed, I jubilantly look forward to each booking with a book club, and I think Rebecca Wells captured exquisitely the gratitude inherent in this jubilance when she wrote, in the introduction to her short-story collection Little Altars Everywhere, “I’ve met people who know so much more than I do, and they continue to tell me what it is that I have written.”
Wells nails it, and I use her inspired introduction in the undergraduate creative writing classes I teach to exemplify the essence of literary reception to those who may be new to the workshop model. Vince Gotera—editor of my favorite literary magazine save Quiddity—captures this splendidly, too, in his excellent workshop guide included in his Craft of Poetry syllabus. After offering student-writers guidance and examples regarding a meaningful response to readers’ receptions of their work, he writes, “Better yet, simply say thanks.”
Sass and Texas would wholeheartedly agree.