A Love Affair, by Anthony D. Fredericks

A Monthly Column by Anthony D. Fredericks

A Love Affair

Recently, I received some very good news: a book proposal for a new adult nonfiction book, In Search of the Old Ones: An Odyssey among Ancient Trees, was accepted by Smithsonian Books. In my conversation with the chief editor, it was clearly evident she was excited about this venture and her enthusiasm spilled into every segment of our discussion. My joy for the book also permeated the half-hour call as we chatted about the direction for the book, its breadth of topics, as well as its promotional possibilities. It was an exchange full of delightful potentialities and considered respect.

My unmitigated elation at the acceptance of this book project was couched in the reality that this proposal had been submitted to roughly seventy-two different publishers and/or agents over a span of nearly five years. But, I was in love with the project from its inception and wanted it to succeed no matter the time frame. And so, I continued submitting (what I often refer to as blind persistence) my “arboreal love affair” to a pantheon of potential publishers and representatives. I so wanted someone to love it, too. Finally, one did!

I have often talked about the importance of passion in writing. Whenever I am asked about the single most important element of writing (for children or adults), I always respond that every piece of writing must have a fury and a fire. Words alone do not make for a memorable story, gripping narrative, or engaging novel. The ardor of the author must clearly be at the forefront of any writing. Without that fever, a book simply becomes the recording of words . . . rather than a mutual and affirming connection between author and reader.

We have all had the experience of beginning a new book and realizing that by page five the author has failed to make a literary connection. We quickly discover that we are merely reading words . . . words without substance, devoid of emotion, or lacking involvement. Conversely, good writers don’t record words—they envelop readers in mental adventures full of affection, infatuation, and zeal. It quickly becomes clear that these authors are in love with their lyrics, not because they take up space or complete a sentence, but rather because they are emotional connections between a scribe and an audience.

You and I have also experienced magical books that keep us up into the wee hours of the morning with their scintillating dialogue, engaging plot, and captivating characters. These are books where the author is in love with . . . and has a deep respect for . . . her words—as much as she might be in love with a spouse, a family pet, or her favorite Italian recipe. Words with emotion are linguistically more satisfying and intellectually more rewarding than lifeless terms extracted from a musty dictionary.

Questions to Ask

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin a new book or continue with a current project:

  • Are you in love with what you write? Or, are your words merely taking up space on the page?
  • Is your current project (fiction or nonfiction) full of emotion or devoid of human connection?
  • Do your words come from the heart or do they simply spring from your mind?
  • Do you embrace your words with as much passion as you might embrace another human being?
  • Do your words simply fill out a sentence or do they passionately engage a prospective reader?
  • Is your writing a love affair or a daily duty?

Before I submit any manuscript or book proposal, I always ask myself one critical question: Am I in love with this piece? If my answer is not an enthusiastic and passionate “YES,” then I know there’s more work to be done. By the same token, if I do not approach a new piece of writing with emotion and sentiment, then I know that potential readers (and potential editors) won’t either.

My new project focuses on trees across the U.S. that have lived (and continue to live) to ripe old ages (e.g., Bristlecone Pines in eastern California [see photo to the right] that have been living for 5,000+ years; an aspen forest in central Utah that has been alive for 80,000 years; and redwood trees more than 2,000 years old). A direct outgrowth of my children’s title Tall Tall Tree (https://amzn.to/3DxJpLj), this venture will be an amazing journey—one full of passion, overflowing with desire, and packed with excitement. As I state in the book’s Introduction, “These are escapes into mysterious territories of both ecology and contemplation—expeditions that are as much admiration as they are an affirmation.”

In short, this will be a most incredible love affair!


A prolific author, Tony is an award-winning writer of both children’s books and adult nonfiction titles. He has also penned the critically acclaimed Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/3kl74YQ). Additionally, he authors a regular blog on PsychologyToday.com https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd) focused on the nature and nurture of creativity.

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1 Response to A Love Affair, by Anthony D. Fredericks

  1. rosecappelli says:

    Good luck with this project, Anthony! I already feel your passion!

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