Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Lesson That Changed The Way I Think About Writing


I was having a hard time.

It was the usual writer stuff--a lack of response from editors and agents that resulted in a lack of motivation. Even the silence on this blog was deafening. Were all my readers on vacation?

To make matters worse, my 102-year-old house decided to kick me in the wallet, as it seems to do almost every year at the most inopportune times.

As if to compliment my mood, it rained. Every damn day.

Enough already.

I really needed a win. Whether or not I deserved one was not up for discussion--I needed one. Just some little sign that told me I'd done the right thing when I'd quit my day job to focus on my writing.

And sure enough, I got one.

But it wasn't anything like I'd expected.

My dream is to write fiction full-time, but to pay the bills, I'm a freelance journalist. A few months ago, a health magazine asked me to write an article about two brothers with a most unusual problem. They were both terrified of needles and doctors--so much so that they both went blind from cataracts rather than seek medical help.

Dr. Gdih, an exceptionally kind and patient eye surgeon, heard of their plight and convinced one of the brothers to undergo the necessary procedure, which he promised would not involve any needles. The man had the operation, he regained his sight, and he helped convince his brother to do the same.

It was a difficult story to write, and certainly one of the strangest of my career.

In the midst of my recent despair, I had to interview the same eye surgeon for another article. He praised me for the cataract story, and then proceeded to give me the win I so desperately needed.

Another local man had the same fear of needles. This man had also gone blind from cataracts. Somehow he heard of my article, and he took it to his doctor's office, saying he was willing to have the operation if Dr. Gdih was the surgeon.

The man's doctor immediately referred him to Dr. Gdih.

Dr. Gdih operated.

The blind man regained his sight.

"You've made a difference," Dr. Gdih said. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I didn't become a journalist for the money. I didn't start telling stories to get published, although both are nice side benefits.

I wanted to be a journalist so I could use my writing ability for the greater good--so I could help people.

My conversation with Dr. Gdih brought home the fact that I was helping people, even if I wasn't aware of it.

Isn't that reason enough to keep going?

It may not be sexy. It's not a six-figure publishing deal or a hundred comments on a blog post.

But at the end of the day, if the best thing that can be said about me is that I wrote things that made a difference, I'm okay with that.

Just think of the people your stories are helping.

Trust me--they're out there.

 The Insecure Writer's Support Group's purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

22 comments:

  1. This is an awesome story for so many reasons. Keep on doing what you're doing! There are more people out there who need your writing.

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    1. Thanks so much, Donelle. I appreciate the kind words.

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  2. I really love this post, and it's something I needed to read. Just the reminder that the articles I get published do some good, even though they'll never put me in the bestsellers' list, will make my writing duties of the day less depressing. Thanks for this.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad I could help, Debi. It is easy to disregard the writing we do to pay the bills, but you never know how much good it could be doing.

      Thanks for commenting!

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  3. I struggle with that in my writing - an audience of One, none or invisible how many...and I've learned that when I relax, write and set the words free God has a way of making sure they land where He intends them too.

    And that often means I hear the silence. And wonder. A lot.

    Thanks for the encouraging post Holli!

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    1. No problem, MM. Glad it encouraged you. It's good to see you back here--I've missed your positivity.

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  4. Wow! That's great. Sounds like a really fascinating article, too.

    I haven't had an experience like that with my writing, but I had something along those lines with my photos.

    Snapping photos is relaxing and meditative for me, and I often post these wacky abstract images of every day objects, like a spoon in the kitchen sink.

    People rarely hit the like button for these artsy photos and I sometimes think it's stupid to be posting them online... but then... out of the blue I'll get a message from someone saying, "Hey, why did you quit posting those wacky photos? I really enjoyed seeing them."

    One time, a guy messaged me on FB to say that a photo I'd posted had brought tears to his eyes.

    I was shocked!

    So, yeah... It really is something, isn't it? We don't actually know who we are touching with our creativity.

    Thought-provoking post, Holli! Thanks. :)

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    1. Hi Tui! Welcome back to the blog--happy to see you here again.

      When I was a community news reporter, I received tons of cards and letters from people thanking me for my stories and telling me what an impact I had, but aside from that, this kind of feedback is rare and precious.

      I'm glad you've experienced it as well, and I'm sure your writing is impacting people, even if they're not taking the time to let you know.

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  5. What a terrific, inspiring story. I'm one of those people who was terrified of having cataracts removed. All I can say now is why did I wait so long!

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    1. Thanks, Diane! I'm really glad you went through with the operation. I hear it isn't bad at all, and really fast.

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  6. I'm a selfish writer and do it for me. It may be wrong, or right. I don't know. The thought of helping someone must feel pretty good. But at the same time I'd rather not think about anyone reading my stuff--very intimidating.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. Welcome to my blog, Anna. I don't think there's any right or wrong answer when it comes to this stuff. There just may be a time when doing it for yourself isn't enough, and if that happens, it may help to think of the other people who need your words for whatever reason.

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  7. You did deserve a win and I'm so glad you got one! That's an amazing story. I'm a certified bra fitter and I used to fit post op breast cancer patients with their mastectomy bras and prostheses. It was truly rewarding and I felt very needed in the universe. Everyone should feel that way every now and again.

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    1. Thanks so much Christina, and welcome to my blog! That sounds like it was an incredible opportunity to comfort women during a very tough time. I'm sure you made a huge positive difference in their lives when they needed it most.

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  8. Wow, wow, wow. A man can SEE because of your work? Holy heck, that's amazing. You're definitely making a difference. That is a beautiful story.

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie. Of course, credit must go to the editor that assigned the story, but I've joked about adding "helping the blind see" to my resume.

      Thanks for the kind words.

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  9. For every one person you touch and hear about, there are probably dozens more you'll never know about. I'm constantly thinking about things I read on people's blogs or in articles.

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    1. So true, Stephanie. It's easy to forget the purpose behind what we do. Thanks for commenting. :)

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