Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

A woman I’ve never met made my day yesterday. Actually, she rescued from the the flu blues, as well as a bad case of the Eeyores (woe is me… life is sad…eat worms…). Not to mention a spiralling why do I bother?? mindset… And to repeat: I’ve never met her. Wouldn’t recognise her if she whacked me on the butt.

But she’s my new publisher, and deserves a huge round of applause. Her impact on me is proof positive that small gestures on our part can have large impact on others.

In the publishing business — especially poetry — much of the contact is done by email. I have actually met very few (two? three?) of the people who have published my work. But that’s true for much of my life these days — increasingly, it is online.

I spend hours daily on email, connecting through FaceBook or LinkedIn or Google+. There are people I think of as friends — not simply peers — whom I’ve never met: a lovely dog-lover & fellow teachers in Massachusetts, a dear retired professor in Mississippi, an artist & fossil expert in Ohio… Such is today’s network of friendships, the ersatz sangha I belong to. Nice people, friends of dear friends, with whom I’ve struck up ‘virtual’ — but real — friendships.

But my publisher doesn’t have to be nice to me — she already accepted my manuscript, and she could ignore me until there’s actual work to do. Instead, when I send her an email updating her on the progress of various manuscript submissions to this & that journal (bad…uniformly NOT GOOD), she sends me a cheerleader of a letter. Tongue firmly in cheeck, she reminds me that if this was easy, everyone would do it. And somehow that helps.

What helps even more is her belief in my work, which feels like a belief in me, the person. The sad-eyed Eeyore heart behind the brave shell of a writer. We’re such fragile, self-absorbed folks, writers. I’ve been known to tell a classroom of writers — of any age — that everyone in the room (myself included) believes that what they think & have to say MATTER, or they wouldn’t be writing it down! That asserted, it doesn’t mean anyone else will want to listen. Or that they won’t  (worst possible scenario!) LAUGH AT YOU! (Cue evil laughter…)

I happen to know that Sammy (my publisher) is always busy. Probably frantically busy, as most folks involved w/ writers are. She juggles a life (even writers are allowed one), her writers, the publishing biz, her own writing, interviews, advocacy… the list is long and literate. But she still found time, late the other evening, to write a new-to-her writer a note of encouragement. And she didn’t laugh once.

How many times daily could I make a difference? How many times might eye contact, a smile, a word of genuine thanks, a note of appreciation, smooth the wrinkles from a rumpled day? And how many times are we too busy to even notice, much less take the moments necessary?

Here’s to Sammy, and words of encouragement. I’m tearing a leaf from that book. And the words don’t even have to rhyme…

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