Encouragement – Pass it On

August 10, 2009

I’ve written before about how a good friend of mine encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing a book.  Two days ago, I had the opportunity to do the same for someone else.

This person is a friend who is a gifted but very private poet, who has shared her work with me over the past several years. Her poems are intensely personal – but bearing the mark of the best writing – they are also universal. The reader can relate – either because she herself has experienced some of the same situations, the same emotions, or just is given insight into what that must be like, from that writer’s perspective.

This friend told me – at first with great assertion – then quickly changing to fear and uncertainty – “I’ve decided I’m going to publish.”  I was thrilled. I had believed for a long time that her poems would find a ready audience, and that they should be shared.

Like my other friend from several years back, I was able to tell this friend, now, to “Go for it! You deserve this. It is important. You can do it. And yes, you (and your writing) are good enough!”

It was a privilege and an honor. And I cannot wait to see where this journey is going to take her. She is a strong woman, and a talented writer, whom I admire very much. I’m so lucky to be able to call her my friend – and luckier still to be in a place where I can give her encouragement  in this endeavor. Just like someone else did for me a few years ago. It changed my life.

© writingreading, 2009

Little Things can be Big Things

July 12, 2009

I was at a friend’s house this weekend, and she had something that said, “Pay attention to the little things – because someday you may find out they turn out to be big things.”

I was reminded of this again, the next day. I ran into an old, very dear friend, whom I had not seen or heard from for a very very long time. It was so joyous to see her, and spend just a few moments catching up. A few years back, this friend told me, simply but in the forceful way that friends can have with one another when they are saying something important: “Go for it.” I had just told her about how my entire life’s dream was to write a book. And not just any book, but a non-fiction history book, about which I had been doing research for years. It truly was my passion. “Go for it” she said. “Go ahead. Call the publisher. Ask them what to do.” I thought, no, I don’t even have it written. I need to do more before I call. “Go for it” she insisted. “Call them.” So at her urging, I did. The phone call led to me submitting a formal proposal, which they liked. Now, for the past few years, I have been doing the writing. Although it is taking a long time, I believe that I can get this published, and with a reputable publisher, at that. Now, I can’t say that I recommend this particular approach, for everyone. In fact, it is probably not a good idea or publishing etiquette, to call a publisher so far in advance of having a complete manuscript. But my point here, is – those three simple words from her – “Go for it” – truly changed my life. They set me on a path that I could not have imagined becoming real. And they gave me confidence and faith in my abilities and the story I had to tell. I have often told my friend how very grateful I am for her encouragement, and her support, and her insistence that I take that first step in this journey. I compare it to a tiny pebble that starts an avalanche. A very small thing, that has a huge impact. I have always been very grateful for her friendship – but that for me will always be a defining moment.

So – fast forward to today, several years later. Me and my friend had since drifted apart – not deliberately, and with no hard feelings – just mutually busy lives. So I run in to her today, and we spend a little time catching up. She tells me about her teenage daughter, who was about 11 when the previous story took place. At that time, years ago, my friend mentioned that her daughter was working on a “novel”. I was impressed because her daughter was in about fifth or sixth grade – and that she literally had been working on this consistently for more than just a day or so. She had been doing some sustained writing. In fact, she had been doing more writing on her book than I had on mine! So of course I was impressed! I think she had maybe 6 or 10 or maybe even 12 pages. In any case – a lot, esp. for someone that young. Well, today, my friend told me, “Remember when you read ______’s novel? That meant so much to her. She started writing then and hasn’t stopped since.” Wow. I started to cry, it meant so much to hear that. Now, of course, obviously, this young woman’s parents are to be given all the credit for encouraging her to pursue her writing skills – but to be told this by the young lady’s mother, nearly four or five years after the fact – and to have it be one of the first things she tells me as we are filling each other in on our lives – was so humbling and such an honor. “It just goes to show you,” my friend said, “you just never know how you’re going to impact someone’s life.” Wow. What an honor.

It’s true that sometimes what seems like a little thing can turn out to be a very big thing, indeed.

Would love to hear from some of my readers of any of their own experiences with how something that seems like a little thing, turns out to be big thing.

© writingreading, 2009