If pressed to describe my writing week in one word, the word would be “Encouragement”. This week:
I attended a writer friend’s book signing.
Old friends gifted me with a coffee mug (required for every writer) and coffee from Writer’s Workshop in Port Townsend, WA.
I invited three fellow writers to Wordfest, an evening of reading aloud and sharing one’s work in my town.
At Wordfest, we enthusiastically listened to the writings of self-published authors, poets, and a playwright whose play was a contest finalist among 400 entries.
I bought a book of poems from a poet who also happens to be a janitor – he calls himself the “Blue Collar Prophet”.
I encouraged myself (that is sometimes the most important). I applied for a writer’s grant and turned in a revised assignment for my writing course with ICL a week early. I also read an entire middle grade novel in a night (The Wild Robot by Peter Brown – highly recommend it).
All these activities encouraged me, and most lifted up others as well. While supporting and being encouraged, I learned several things. I learned how a non-fiction book signing works. I learned that others want to encourage me and are happy that I’m pursuing my dream. I learned that even though we don’t all have the same goals or interest areas we can still support one another along the writing journey. We are not all striving to be traditionally published or even to sell our work. We are all striving to express ourselves through different genres and hoping to be heard.
Good writing can make us laugh, cry, be introspective, and be hopeful even if the story doesn’t touch on our own personal experience. We all share the experience of being human. We all have desires, fears, joys, and hurts. I learned that some writers are happy to give their works away (or at least sell them so cheaply that it’s almost like giving them away) as long as someone is seeing their words. I learned that a good book will read itself and a poorly-written one must be “got through”. I learned that what one person loves (or even the National Book Award committee loves) is not guaranteed to be something I can even finish reading.
Encouragement. We all need it and we can all provide it. It’s easy as a smile or intimate as a hug. You get to decide what you’re up for. Some of us write notes, others make encouraging phone calls. A “like” on Facebook or Instagram is an encouragement. It says, “I noticed you. Good job. Keep going.” Or, “Thanks for the lift today. I needed that.” It sounds tiny. But you know — it’s uplifting to know you’ve encouraged someone. Don’t we all want to make a difference in someone else’s daily life?
So, I encourage you to encourage someone today. A writer or other type of artist. A child – always encourage children. The people you live with. They may need it the most. As Ben Stiller’s Starsky says in the movie “Starsky and Hutch”, “Do it. Do it.”
Readers feel free to share the unusual ways in which you’ve been encouraged or lifted someone else. Happy writing!
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