Thursday, April 19, 2007

Karma Kontinued

I think this topic that Robin posted earlier in the week is so key that I wanted to share some thoughts of my own. And, it is one of the reasons that I love my partnership and friendship with Robin. We both are steeped in a sense of wonder and gratitude that we are working authors. And neither of us loses sight of the fact for an instant that there were many hands that helped carry us forward to the marvelous space we now inhabit.

We don’t want to miss a single opportunity to shine a light for anyone else that is traveling this path. It would be a fascinating exercise sometime to sit down and create a flow chart that tracked all the connections, the leg-ups, the introductions, the moments of synchronicity and serendipity that led to publication.

Some of you have heard my tale of once staying late at a conference to clean-up after others had left… and being the last volunteer on hand. (Feeling hungry, overwhelmed and way past ready to get home to recharge.) Our Regional Advisor came huffing up and asked if I would mind driving Wendy Lamb and Cecil Goyette back to their hotel. Okay, fine, if I must! :-> Wendy later bought my book. And, I did not pitch it to her in the car. Swear.

When I talk about serving the community or “paying it forward”, I don’t just mean doing things that will appear to have a big personal pay-off for you. (As in, “Will someone please take this latte to Arthur Levine’s room, where he is just lounging about wishing he had something to read!”) I’m literally talking about conference clean-up, stuffing envelopes, baking cookies, schlepping supplies, whatever the community needs.

You needn’t wait to be a published author/illustrator, or a CEO, or a lottery winner before you start giving back. Start now! Even if it feels you don’t have much to give yet. You do— you absolutely do. Be patient with others that aren’t as far along as you are. Be encouraging. Be a volunteer. Be grateful. Find ways to recognize and appreciate others in your community that are toiling on the path near you. N-O-W.

When I coach writers/artists, it is such an exciting shift when they recognize that they do not have to constantly be waiting-waiting-waiting with both hands out for a lucky break. Instead, they can be busy creating bounty for others.

So, friends, get busy giving back. You have my guarantee, and Robin’s, that Lady Luck, or Divinity, or Serendipity, the Goddess of All Things Good, will be with you shortly.

We’d love to hear your story of someone that has paid it forward to you. Do tell!

Mary Hershey


Anonymous said...

Here's one of my 'paying it forward' stories:

Back in 1985 BP (Before Publication), I bemoaned to a writer friend that I felt out of touch with the middle grade crowd I was trying to write for. She mentioned she was a volunteer at a local elementary school library, and asked the librarian if I could help out too. The librarian agreed, and arranged for me to work three hours a week in a special reading program for 6th graders. My original plan was to stay a few months - - I ended up volunteering there seven years! I developed an excellent ear for middle grade dialogue, learned the relationship dynamics of 12-year-olds, mentored several 6th grade girls, and even got feedback on my unpublished novels from the kids themselves (who were incredible critics!). The librarian then invited me to sit on the district book review committee, where I had the chance to: meet and work with all the librarians in our county; read and review all the newly-published books; help choose which books would be adopted by the school libraries. This experience helped me become a better writer and critic. AND, in the late 1980's AP (After Publication), the librarians I had met all showed up at my first book launch and bought multiple copies of my book for their school. So thank you, writer-friend Susie Wilde, for 'paying it forward' to me. The best payment of all was that several of the girls I originally worked with told me they became avid readers, writers and, eventually, teachers - - because of me!
-Lee Wardlaw

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Lee Wardlaw!

Thanks so much for your great post... YES! This is such a great story and exactly what we are talking about. You, missy, have a PhD in paying it forward! Look at all you've done for the writers in our community! You were the first on our path, and such a bright, encouraging light.

With great appreciation and affection,
Mary Hershey