Authors Are People, Too

If you’ve ever walked the halls of Hogwarts with Harry, floated down the Mississippi River with Huck, or braved the stares of Puritan America with Hester–all without leaving the comfort of your house–then you understand the sheer magic of books. What you might not understand, however, is the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into creating the pages of those books.

An author’s life, for all its romanticism, is not an easy one.

That’s why November 1 has been set aside as National Author’s Day. Yes, we have our own day.

The movement started back in WW1, when a woman named Nellie Verne Burt McPherson was laid up in a hospital, recuperating from illness. To pass the time, she started reading Irving Bacheller’s “Eben Holden’s Last Day A’Fishing.” Although she’d spent her life as a teacher and avid reader, this particular story moved her in such a way that she did something she’d never done before: she picked up a pen and a piece of paper and wrote a letter to Bacheller, telling him just how much she enjoyed his story. Bacheller, for his part, was so appreciative of her kind words, he sent her an autographed copy of another story he’d written.

Elated, McPherson shared her experience with the members of the Illinois Women’s Club and suggested the creation of an “Author’s Day,” in which readers across the country could show their appreciation for the world of stories–and the writers who create them. Her club agreed and the idea moved all the way up to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and, eventually, to the United States Department of Commerce, which officially recognized the day in 1949.

However, it wasn’t until after McPherson’s death in 1968 that the notion really began to take off, thanks to the efforts of McPherson’s granddaughter, Sue Cole. Cole began widely promoting observance of the day, urging people to write letters to their favorite authors to “brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer.” She also encouraged the flying of American flags to show appreciate for both past and present creators of great American literature.

Today, people are still encouraged to write to their favorite authors on November 1, via email, contact form, or good old-fashioned pen and paper. You can also send them notes through Twitter or Facebook.

But there’s other ways to celebrate, too! Buy a new book by your favorite author, re-read an old one, or try a book by someone completely new. Share your love of a favorite author with a friend by buying him/her a copy of your favorite book. Attend a book discussion group at your local library or bookstore. Or try your hand at being an author yourself! Start that novel, write a short story, or compose a poem. There is no better testament to an author than being inspired to create your own masterpiece.

However you choose to celebrate, take time to remember all the work that went into the pieces of bound, covered pages in your hand. Mutter a little thanks to the author…and then dive in. 🙂

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