Janice Hardy asked an interesting question years ago that has always stuck with me: “What have authors done that made you want to learn more about their book?” It’s had me thinking a LOT about who I am and who I want to be when it comes to my writing. It’s easy to look around and say “I don’t want to be that or I don’t want to be that. And I certainly don’t want to be that!” But do I know what I DO want to be?
So here it is. The type of author/person I want to be.
1. Holds the door for people.
Usually as I’m going in or out of places I am aware of people following behind me. I try to hold the door, especially if they’re carrying stuff or herding kids. But am I doing that professionally as well? Am I making sure to have patience with newcomers just as so many have had patience with me? Am I giving them a chance? Do I check out their blogs or listen when they tweet? Do I share their insight around the blogosphere? I am not in a position to give advice right now, but I am in a position to lend support. I can hold a door while another person steps through. And I hope to continue to do so when I am published.
Like Janice Hardy, who replied to a quick tweet of mine regarding her book The Shifter. I didn’t expect it, but it made me feel special to have a favorite author acknowledge me. (I shouldn’t admit this, but I went right out and got book two, Blue Fire, because of it.) Thanks for holding the door for me in that moment.
2. Picks up whatever a person drops and hands it back.
A toddler at Costco kicked off her shoe the other day. Mom and Dad had no clue. I could have left it. She’s not my kid after all. But I know enough moms to know how frustrating it is when a shoe goes inexplicably missing. So I scooped it up and handed it to the parentals. No big deal. It’s a shoe.
What about in the writerly world? It’s often a lot more than a shoe that seems to fall around here. Our work comes with seemingly inherent pitfalls of rejection, frustration, failure. Do I take the time to send a quick note, leave a nice comment, or tweet something to a fellow writer letting them know they’re awesome? Mostly I seem to shy away from those things because we don’t really know each other or I worry that the recipient will think I have ulterior motives. But I didn’t know the couple at Costco either and I wasn’t worried they might think I wanted them to pay for my groceries. Nope. And I shouldn’t worry here. What you think is your problem. All I have to be is honest and sincere.
One of my most treasured comments came from Lydia Sharp, who I had no idea was even watching my blog. Years ago I posted, “Here’s to a great year of learning, growing, and expanding horizons. (And hopefully my first complete WIP instead of starting another partial, hehe).” And she replied with, “You WILL complete it this year. I have faith in you! :)” No biggy. Short. Sweet. Simple. But what she really did was pick up my hope, dust it off, and hand it back to me. And you know what? I finished that story.
I want to be that person too.
3. Remembers my roots.
And I’m not talking hair color. I came from a poor (read: we sometimes went without food) family with all sorts of dysfunction. As I made choices to change my family tree (college, career, spouse, etc) it became easier to judge that way of life. To look upon it (and those still there) with disdain. I’m a recovering snob, what can I say. So I’ve tried harder in recent years to replace judgement with love. To remember what it was like in those days to feel my stomach grumble. To watch others get the newest great thing. To wear the same pants to school everyday because that was all I had. And to be grateful that I no longer worry about where my next meal will come from or if I’ll be safe as I sleep tonight.
Now I try to give back to the programs that helped me find a more fulfilling life for me and I hope to be able to do that as an author too. To remember what it was like to slam your head against your desk over your first draft. To remember pre-agent, pre-publishing days when a word from a mentor gave me a high that lasted for days. I hope to keep these things in mind as I progress and to stay grateful for those who helped me and open to those who may need a kind word from me.
So that’s the author I want to be (in addition to crazy awesomesauce writer).
Who do you want to be? How do you maintain your perspective through the roller coaster of writing and entrepreneurship?