Writing as an Act of Kindness

I get some of my best ideas while running, even if what I call a run is barely faster (sometimes slower!) than another’s brisk walk.

I don’t know how the ideas come to me. Perhaps it’s that endorphin rush that blows away the cobwebs, or the fact that a higher heart rate pumps more oxygen to my brain.

Or they could be a summons from the divine, which, when I hear about so many others who get ideas while in the shower, or in less sacred locales, can be problematic.

Or, maybe, as so many others insist, the ideas are a gift, a seed that we may plant, or ignore, and the less we examine how ideas find us, the better.

The idea was to recast a lifetime of learning, teaching and comforting others about their writing, as acts of kindness, that is, a thing we do for ourselves, for others or for that idea itself, which can change rapidly from a warm internal glow to an itch that demands to be scratched.

We scratch that itch, not because we want something (fame, fortune and respect from the jerks who treated us badly in high school!), but because we have something genuine, original and authentic to offer.

As a person who has defined himself, more or less, more AND less, as a writer, I know that there is more to the trade than that. But so many other writers–typically those who are stuck between projects, or underpaid academes who hope to profit by forcing their students to buy their guide,  or, perhaps, celebrity wordsmiths who have achieved enough of that covetable fame and fortune to grow weary of answering how-d’ya-do-it questions from adoring wannabe’s–have written serious tomes those other things.! How many self-help style writing guides have we seen that purport to be the only book we’ll ever need to launch us on our way to artistic apotheosis?

Too many.

Still, a slim collection of short little jottings about how the numerous challenges, annoyances, frustrations, maddening ludicrousities and other obstacles to creative fulfillment may be better understood, if not welcomed, as opportunities to experience kindness, may find a place in the world.

Would anyone like to see this? I know I would have, a long time ago, when I discovered that truly creative work was about getting things wrong more often than right (this happened occasionally with journalism, too, with much more dire consequences!) and taking what you feel is right, or fun, cool, exciting or a LOT better than what you got wrong, and offering that, with no certainty that what I’d done was any good, but the hope that it is at least worth someone’s attention.

The first act of writing as a practice of kindness might be the simple observation that, if you get ideas for things you want to write, even if you have no idea how you would begin, finish, publish, deal with critics, dazzle the multitudes at your book signings, negotiate the movie deal, etc., you are already blessed, because most people DON’T get these ideas. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them.

But it might mean that there is something definitely right with you! Acknowledging that, and permitting yourself to feel just a little bit good about it, is a kindness you can give yourself, without firing up the word processor, putting pen to paper, or making coffee.

Let’s be grateful that ideas find us when they do!



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