Returning the gift of generosity to my writing friends …

[This blog post first appeared on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog in April 2018].

Being a generous writer is something I aspire more to be.

As writers, we are given so much at a God level – a story to write or the seed of an idea that germinates into something beautiful. We are gifted with the ability to write that story, and to fulfill its promise. And we are given those people around us. Over my fiction writing journey – a smaller three year chunk of a two-decade professional writing stint – I have had so many people be generous to me.

I am grateful for those who were (and continue to be) generous in:

  • A kind word. Writing can be a slog. I’ve been there … that place where you are convinced that every single word you put on the page is going to be edited out. Where you start to wonder if your characters are actually characterless. The point where you’re not even sure YOU’RE interested in your plot, let alone anyone else. It’s at this moment that some people have offered a kind word or a message: just something that says “I appreciate your gift.” If you’ve said that to me, thank you.
  • Their feedback. And by feedback I don’t mean the usual kind Auntie-style feedback that says “you should publish this, it will become a best-seller.” The feedback I’m grateful for is when someone (usually a writer themselves) who tells me the story is okay but needs some work in Character A or Plot Twist B. If you’ve provided this type of feedback to me, thank you.
  • An idea. As writers we can tend to the secretive when it comes to ideas. One of the big concerns I hear a lot from writers is this concept of playing your cards close to your chest, just in case they’re sitting on a best-selling idea and someone appropriates it. But writing is collaborative – it has to be – in order to fulfill the potential of a story. I’ve had people read my work and offered suggestions that have made a character stronger, or driven the plot into a left-hand turn to really throw the reader when they thought they could see what was coming. If you’ve provided an idea like this, thank you.
  • Support and encouragement. I’ve got a mentor (and I’d encourage you all to get one if you don’t), and I can say that Jim’s encouragement of me has kept the candle burning and the hamster wheel spinning. I’ve had other encouragements through this Facebook group, other Facebook groups, email lists and friends on social media. If you’ve provided support like that to me, thank you.
  • Taking an interest. Sometimes it’s the unexpected message asking how things are going. Sometimes it’s the message after a deadline to see how things are tracking. Sometimes it’s just someone saying hello and wanting to know more about what I’m writing. This interest has fuelled me when things have been slow or difficult. So if you’ve taken an interest in my writing, thank you.

So what is the takeaway from this?

I have set myself a challenge in 2018 to be as generous as people have been with me. To reciprocate; to return the favour to someone who could benefit from it as much as I did. To bless others as I have been blessed.

It’s not always easy, as life gets busy and deadlines tend to draw your gaze down to the page, where it often stays. Where either work or family calls you away from those writing around you. But it’s something I’m trying to be more conscious of, and proactive about.

And I’d encourage you to do the same. As someone who has been on the receiving end of generous writers, I can guarantee you it makes a difference.

 

 

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