Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No Longer a Writer, I'm Now an Eraser

         While writing my first book, The Healing Power of Humor, I purchased a new 

computer program.  One morning, after typing for two hours, I accidentally pressed the 

wrong combination of keys.  Instantly everything I had written was erased. 
         Just then the phone rang.  It was a friend inquiring about how my writing was going.
         “Not so great,” I said.
         “What’s wrong?,” she inquired.
         “I’m no longer a writer.”
         “No longer a writer?,” she questioned.
         “No,” I replied.  “I’m now an eraser!”
         In spite of my trying to make light of the situation it was painful losing some good writing but perhaps not as painful as being rejected by eleven publishers when I was trying to get my book published. 
         And certainly not as painful as having to rewrite most of the book after my first editor left the company and I was assigned another editor who had a different “vision” of the book. 
         Or the mental anguish I went through when I was told that the title had to be changed in spite of my first editor admonishing me to “never change” what she called a best-selling title— Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying.
         So how did I have the motivation to continue writing when being bombarded with so many setbacks from so many directions?
         I was able to do it because I knew that my words would make a difference in the lives of those who read my book.  I knew that the story of my how my wife used humor to deal with her terminal illness would help others deal with their loss.  I also knew that if I could write just one page a day, no matter how many setbacks or rewrites I encountered, eventually the book would be done. 
         And it was.
         And it is making a difference.  The Healing Power of Humor is now in nine languages and a thirty-sixth printing in this country. The feedback I get from those who have read it is heartwarming.  One of my favorite pieces of fan mail, for example, came from a woman who wrote:
         Dear Mr. Klein, 
         I want to tell you about an incident that happened to me after reading your book. I had  to take a trip I did not want to take.  I was grumpy about it and became more upset, as the days got closer to my leaving.  So, as you suggest in your book, I decided that I would turn my negativity around. 
          I went to my local thrift shop and got the baggiest brightest pair of pants I could find, some red suspenders and a big polka-dotted shirt.  Then I bought an inexpensive multi-colored wig and a red clown nose.

          The day of the trip that I was regretting turned into one of the best days of my life.   

When I got to the airport in my clown outfit, some kids came over and asked for my 

autograph.  One man was convinced that he had seen me recently in the Ringling Brothers 

circus.  But best of all, when they announced the boarding of my flight, they said, “We are 

going to begin pre-boarding only.  Those needing a little extra time, families with children 

and clowns may go first.”