Thursday, 18 November 2010

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid...

Water can support a boat or overturn it.--William Shakespeare

Actually, Shakespeare was referring to leaders being overturned by people in this passage. But, on its own, this part of the verse is profound, and it applies to the thought on my mind today. Powerfully so.

Support. Mentoring. Sharing wisdom. Teaching the ropes. Paying it forward.

I have to start by saying that I’ve been blessed with exposure to some of the most supportive people imaginable in the writing community. A list of who they are and what they’ve done would is too long to ever itemize.

The list includes some who’ve been unselfish enough to beta read for me, to offer valuable feedback—some of this feedback in the form of detailed critiques and edits.

I’ve been blessed with the offerings of others and their artistic skills.

A talented woman with a beautiful, artistic soul designed my blog and my website. Somehow, without any particulars from me, she homed in on ME and crafted these gorgeous sites. She GOT me, and managed to create ME in these designs. I didn’t ask her to do this. She just gave of herself. To support me. She believes in me.

Once, when I needed motivation, another fellow writer who is a cover artist designed a mock cover for the book I was writing. To this day, I swell with pride when I look at that cover, and I still show it off. To this person, that cover was probably easy as pie, no biggie. But, to ME, it was equal to honoring me with a gold medal, a trophy—a symbol that said someone BELIEVED in me and my talent. A medallion to carry with me at all times so that I would believe in myself as well. A carrot dangled in front of me to push me to finish the damn book.

As I said, I’ve been uncommonly blessed with support.

So what’s with the you’ll shoot your eye out, kid? I’ll tell you what.

I came across that picture of Ralphie from A Christmas Story—that scene where he struggled, clawed his way back up the slide to tell Santa that he wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. And the caustic Santa nudged a boot toe to Ralphie’s forehead and sent him spiraling back to the bottom, smirking to the dazed child, You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.

Well, it hit me that if I offer support, even if it’s just a cheer or a congratulations on finishing a chapter, of a pat on the shoulder, a moment to read a manuscript for someone, anything—I’m helping a beginning fellow writer who’s just like myself to realize THEIR dream. I have that in my power, no matter how far along in the writing experience I am.
On the other hand, I could use that power to do just the opposite. To say one word—one carefully crafted word—of discouragement, to be the pin that pricks a hopeful writer’s bubble. It only takes one word. One word can put hope in a heart or be the boot—the you’ll shoot your eye out, kid—that sends the writer zooming to the bottom in a big pile of discouragement.

I have the power to be the water that supports the boat or the water that overturns it. And the beauty of that is that it takes no time at all, doesn’t interrupt me from anything. I’d be willing to bet every successful writer can remember back to their beginnings and recall some other writer who reached out to them, offered support, an encouraging word, a kind gesture. And, like me, grinned from ear to ear that somebody who was so successful took a moment to remember their own past.

My dream? Sure, to be a successful writer. But, oh, I can just see myself in some mountain cabin, surrounded by art and pottery and glass wind chimes, with my cute little straw hat on. And young writers would come to have tea with me and we could talk about writing, and I could encourage them and lift them up. And those kids could tell other kids, Hey, that C. Zampa is cool. She’s just a regular guy.


Z.A. Maxfield said...

You have such a lovely soul. I want to live in the cabin next door, and we'll have each other's keys and water each other's cats...

Unknown said...

C, you are an inspiration to us just being who you are. Never forget that. I'm proud to be someone you call a friend. Thanks for sharing this lovely post and passing the idea along.

Lex Valentine said...

I'll come to tea with you, but only if you have Earl Grey. And knowing you, you would make sure you had the favorite teas of all your pals.

You know, oddly, I stressed a little over that cover wondering what you would think. Because what you thought of it was important to me. I don't stress the covers I do for authors I don't know. I don't have my own emotional investment in them. Doing a cover for you or Lisa or Jaime or Mary or Tess... those are/were different. I don't think I try harder for people I know as opposed to those I don't, but your reaction to my work matters more. And I'm just glad that mock hit the spot.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

You can have all the mentors you want but in the end you'll be stuck with just you and your blank piece paper (or computer nowadays), how will you fill it out and with what? All I know is it's patiently waiting...are you? Time's a-wastin'

C. Zampa said...

Buddy, my cat, would love you for a neighbot, Zam.

Yours is a lovely soul!

Thank you for visiting, and for your support as well.

C. Zampa said...

Jaime, I'm equally proud to call you a friend.

You've certainly been one who has encouraged, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...Carol. You have the right idea. And to do these things for someone should be an unselfish act. One in which you want no praise for, aren't looking for anything in return. One you don't have to tell about. No names necessary. No need to put a face to the deeds. That's what makes them special. Kind of like what Regina's father did all those years ago at Thanksgiving. He didn't need anyone to know he'd helped. It was enough that he had.

Thanks for sharing, hon.

C. Zampa said... want Earl Grey, I'll make sure to have it!

The cover indeed showed your thoughts, and part of its beauty was that it WAS my story--to a "T".

And know what? I'm going to finish the story to honor the cover.

Thanks, much!

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Mick, you are my task master! And I LOVE you for it!

Yes, it IS me in the end, isn't it?

Well, I HAVE submitted something, and we shall see.

Thanks, my friend!

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Tess!

You know, I think those who truly love writing actually DO these acts out of unselfishness.

And, hey. In the big scheme of things, I'm a nobody who has nothing to repay these gesutres with except for my gratitude.
But I DO have gratitude overflowing.

Regina Carlysle said...

What a beautiful post, C. I've worked lots of jobs in my life but I've never met more unselfish folk than in this writing biz. When I was just starting, worrying about this or that, others stepped up to offer advice and encouragement and I've come to believe that pay it forward is important. We all know this business can be cutthroat and treacherous but for every one of those experiences there are a dozen or more writers who understand and are willing to help. What helps one of us, helps us all.

Sarah Ballance said...

Aw, Zampa, I will always be proud to say I knew you "when" (and now!). And know I count you as THE person you speak of, the one who reached out and believed in me. No doubt I'd be sitting on a pile of rejection letters without your support. So thank YOU for everything you've done. You've made a huge difference in my life, and for that I'll always be grateful.

Laura G. said...

Lovely post, C. Just lovely. As are you. I feel fortunate to have met so many wonderful people online...and all so giving. And I know for a fact that you have helped other writers -- whether you'd realized it at the time or not -- by just being you. :)

C. Zampa said...

Regina, I've got to agree with you about writers being unselfish people.

Maybe I've just been lucky, but most of the people I've met have been stellar, and SO genuinely warm and unselfish. And that includes you, dear lady.

How priceless that is.

C. Zampa said...

Sarah, I've certainly not kept you out of the rejection it's been a pleasure to know you as YOU made your way in this business.

I'm proud of you as well, and will be able to say I knew HER 'when'.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, hello, Laura!

Lady, you're beautiful as well. You've taken such an interest in my work, and I hope one day to have something to show for that unselfish interest!

Thank you for visiting!

Debbie Gould said...

What a beautiful post. I can only aspire to have as kind a heart as you!!
I am thankfull for you and all my on-line supporters. Frankly you guys have encourage and helped me along the way more than most of the people in my off-line world.
Thanks again!

C. Zampa said...

Well, Debbie, I wish my heart WAS so kind! LOL...

But I sure am grateful for so much support, and YOU have been there for ME and for everyone else as well!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You are right on the target, my dear. "If it wasn't for the kindness of strangers...."

LOL. I love Vivien. And you are as charming and delightful as she ever was.

When it comes down to it, I would rather you smiled at me from Charlie Rose's table than the other way around. I know you can't say, "Hi Joylene" because if you did, then you'd have to say hello to everyone, and well, there just won't be enough time. Wink, then I'll know you're winking at me. And when it's all said and done, could you please give Charlie an extra big hug for me. Those Southern gentlemen are such too adorable.

C. Zampa said...

And you, Joylene Nowell Butler, were just about the first 'kind stanger' I met when started to write.

You were, if I'm not mistaken, the very first person to ever critique me and read my stuff. But, lady, YOU'LL be smiling at ME from Charlie Rose's table! LOL.

You helped me so much, and I hope one day I'll make my very first critiquer proud.

AlanChinWriter said...

Hi Carol, very nice post. It got me thinking about the many people who have helped me along my path. A few came to mind that I trying to help with a glowing review or less than glowing feedback.

A day ago, Victor said something to the effect of: If we don't help and support each other, who will?

I've found the writing community to be very supportive. Sure, there are those that like to put themselves on pedestals and think they're hot stuff and they don't have time for others. Its the ones that give of themselves that last.

C. Zampa said...

Alan, thank you so much for stopping by!

I agree 100% with you, the writing community has been so very supportive, and seem to readily embrace those like myself who need guidance.

And, yes, it IS those who give of themselves who last!

Emmy Ellis said...

I have a box,
a huge box,
and it sits in my mind

The lid is open,
for that box,
is always being filled

Inside sits support,
confidence, friendship
and reams of love

Hugs, consideration,
joy and tears

There is indignance,
anger, shock
all felt on my behalf

I love that box
and everything in it
given freely to me
by you.

I hope the box
never closes

I love you, Carol.


C. Zampa said...

Your soul could not possibly be any more beautiful, Sarah Masters!
I've told you before, and I'm convinced you are an angel among us, and I'm beside myself that I've been granted the blessing of knowing you.

I'm going to have this printed and keep in front of me, always.

I love you, too, my friend!