Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thank you - two words that mean so much

Paula’s thoughts about two simple words that can mean so much.

Have you ever received a ‘thank you’ that will stay in your mind for ever?

This is nothing to do with writing – except maybe it is, so read on.

In the 90s, I was the Girl Guide Commissioner for our ‘county’, which covered an area of about 10 square miles to the west of Manchester and included (at that time) about 500 leaders and 5,000 girls. I was still working full time, but most evenings were taken up with meetings and visits, and even the evenings I spent at home involved preparation for meetings, dealing with individual leaders’ queries and problems, and the inevitable paperwork that accompanied the job.

I couldn’t even begin to estimate the hours I devoted to this voluntary work, but I enjoyed it – well, most of it! I received a lot of thanks both during and after my term of office, but my abiding memory occurred after a water sports day for Guides.

It had all gone well – the girls had enjoyed sailing, kayaking, canoeing, dragon-boat racing, etc. At the end of the day, as 150+ girls were getting ready to leave, a small Guide (aged about 10 or 11 ) stomped up to me, put her hands on her waist, almost belligerently, and said, “Are you the lady that organised all this?”

“Yes,” I said, wondering what was coming next.

“Well,” she replied, “I just want to say it’s been brilliant, so thank you very much,” and then she turned and stomped away again.

Out of all the thanks I received, that’s the one that sticks in my mind. One small girl came to me to say thank you.

How do I relate this to writing? It might be a comment by a friend – ‘Loved your novel, couldn’t put it down’ - or a review from an unknown person – “I gave five stars to this book because it really was a great romance, with an incredible story line and a book that I will be reading over and over.”

Readers should never underestimate the sheer joy they can give to a writer by simply saying (and meaning), ‘Thank you, I really enjoyed your book’ (or maybe even better, by posting a good review on Amazon!).


  1. Years ago, when I taught at a local college, I received a very special thank you from a student. He'd been expelled from school and as no-one ever expected much from him he didn't really see a future for himself. I, however, treat him like any other student and insisted he could do whatever he wanted in life if he was prepared to work for it. Anyway, come the end of the academic year he left along with all the other students, only to re-appear a couple of years later. Not to join my class again but to say thank you. Being the only one to show any real faith in him, he'd taken my words to heart and was now studying towards a career in law, something he insisted he wouldn't be doing were it not for me. This is definitely a thank you that sticks in my mind because it was so unexpected. To be such a positive influence was heart warming and he was such a lovely lad x

  2. Let me be the first to say this...I have loved every single book! Thank you for all the work and love and attention you gave to each of your offerings.
    You have a style that works for me, a style of writing that draws me in, holds my mind and then grabs my heart. I root for the love to bloom and suffer through the quagmire knowing it will work out, but unable to put the book down until it does!

    Miss Paula...I thank you. And Merry Christmas.

  3. Okay, I love the stomping girl. And thank you's are so important. I still make my girls write thank you notes. As a volunteer, I always remember the complainers (the real nasty ones) and the ones who thank me for what I do.

  4. Every now and again I'll get a personal thank you from a parent of a student I've taught. I especially am touched when they give a specific example of how something I've taught their child has stuck with them and helped them out later on in high school or at some other time. I cherish these and keep either the letter or the e-mail to peek at on those days when I wonder if anything I'm doing is making any kind of difference at all and if I'm getting through to anyone.

  5. Suzie, that's a wonderful story, So many times we have no idea what (if any) influence we've had on our students but how good of this one to come back to thank you.

  6. Jo, thank YOU so much. It is words like yours that stay in my mind and persuade me to continue writing through the times I feel like giving up :-)

  7. Jen, I can still picture that small stomping girl! I think everyone really appreciates being thanked, maybe even more so for voluntary work.

  8. You're right to keep the letters, Debra, as a reminder that what you are doing DOES make a difference.

  9. I think it's lovely to have that 'stick out from all the others' memory, Paula. Having the thank you support as a writer makes it very worthwhile! Have a nice Christmas.

  10. After I quit bus driving, a family stopped me in the grocery store and the kids hugged me and said, "We miss you."
    That was an unforgettable thank you.
    Paula, I can inagine that you did a super job as a guide leader.

  11. Nancy, there are some thank yous that remain etched in your mind, and as you say, a thank you is all it needs to support a writer.

  12. Awww, Ana, how lovely of the kids to hug you!
    I enjoyed all the roles I played in Girl Guiding, from running a unit of Girl Guides, to supporting the other leaders when I was the commissioner. I still meet some of my ex-Guides at times, and inevitably the conversation includes a sentence starting with 'I'll always remember ...' I think we tend to underestimate the memories we may give to others.