Thursday, February 17, 2005

Show some appreciation

I've been in the midst of a very busy and hectic week. Mind you, I enjoy being busy, but its been a challenge to do the increased writing I've been required to do in order to pay bills (don't you just love capitalism?), plus continue to grind out my chapters for When Towns Had Teams, and still find some time to post to my two blogs. From the press conference I attended on Tuesday at the State House (for an article I'm writing), to being on deadline for a couple of paying articles, plus a new development that just came in yesterday, I've found it hard to write much here, this week.

I think writing, like other vocations that tend to the creative ant the cerebral sides, is often thought of as less important and consequently, pay is sometimes not as readily available, like it would be for selling a more tangible item, such as a SUV, or a big-screen television.

Being a freelance writer, I've come to accept that some people (unfortunately, many of these are editors) devalue the contributions that many of us make. It always amazes me how often a query about an article doesn't even warrant the most basic response from many in editorial positions. Obviously, some of the more important and obviously busy editors frequently respond, both kindly and politely. Even a perfunctory response of "we'll pass on it", to an article pitch is better than being ignored. Some editors are kind enough to refuse an article, but will encourage continued pitches in the future. Occasionally, I've developed relationships that lead to regular or semi-regular assignments. Those editors are like gold.

Speaking of responses, I got a kind and thoughtful email yesterday from a very sweet person that I got to know a bit last summer, as a result of my involvement as the coach of a college-age baseball team. This communicant, a mother of one of my players, sent a personal note to say she's been following my writing adventures and gave me a great idea for a possible story idea to pitch to Yankee or Downeast magazines. Another email from a former player that I interviewed for my book gave me valuable information regarding the acquisition of photos for the book.

Both of these emails, particularly the former one, made me think about why we often neglect to compliment others, or even acknowledge what they do. Whether you are a writer, musician, web designer, or any other person performing a task or service that you hope makes people's lives better, it's uplifting to get some feedback, particularly of the positive variety.

Writing is a solitary and at times, difficult slog--the money isn't always there and the hours can be long and lonely. I'm not trying to be maudlin about any of this. I'm also not trolling for compliments. I appreciate every person who takes the time to indulge me by reading my writing. I particularly appreciate those who make the additional effort to leave comments from time to time (no, not the nasty anonymous kind).

For me, writing is the best thing I've ever embarked upon. I know I'm a writer, because when I'm not writing, I'm at a loss and don't feel anchored in the world.

I know today, I'm going to send a note to someone who I haven't thanked or shown my appreciation for in a long time. All of us can do a better job of reaching out and putting a personal touch on our little corner of the world.


weasel said...

Thanks Jim, for not only writing well but writing from a place of deep generosity of spirit.

When I came to work at the non-profit day job I was reminded of the power of a thank you by this amazing woman who volunteers to write personal notes to all our donors, supporters, and volunteers. This woman writes hundreds of thnak yous for us every year and often her notes are the first thing people mention when they find out where I work. I resolved to follow her example in life and one the best dollars I ever spend each month is on a pack of 10 thank you cards from Renys.

Its good for the soul, man.

Jim said...


You comment is exceedingly kind and very much appreciated.

The thank you note idea is a very simple one, but as you note, people are touched by it. I wonder why it isn't done more often? I'm sure the busyness of modern life has something to do with it. I like the concept of putting the pen to paper also, because it's so anti-technology and hearkens back to a time when we were a word-based culture.

Isn't Reny's great? I love the store in Damriscotta and the one in Bath. Local Maine company, committed to the people of Maine.