I was going through some of my earlier blogs from a previous website, and came across one I had written about paying it forward. It seemed apt considering the last few months. Having published my novel, I knew it would be a slow process to get readers and reviews. Let’s face facts. The competition out there is fierce. To stand a chance you need the support of family, friends and peers and you need hope the rest will come. However, people are busy with their own lives and don’t always understand what their writer friend needs in order to get out of the starting gate. And peers are busy with their own work. I had factored that into my planning. It turns out I had factored it in at an intellectual level but not an emotional one.
Writers invest so much of themselves in what they do. Unfortunately when results are slow, doubt about their work and their ability to do it well, rears its very ugly head. It’s normal to react this way but it is also hard to move past feeling this way, particularly since it could be that our work isn’t all it is supposed to be. As an author you live with that fear on a daily basis, and the emotional repercussions undermine everything you do. And, it’s not just writers. Whatever decision or choices we make in life can cause us to doubt. The trick to it is the way we handle things so we can continue and not give up.
My inspiration for handling what comes my way is to remember the film Paying it Forward. I fell in love with its concept, and I find in these moments when my hold on confidence becomes shaky that the idea of paying it forward takes me away from the self and back into the real world. It works like this. An individual does something nice for three people. These three people individually do something nice for three other people, and so it continues until thousands are reached. What you choose to do for these people is up to you but it has to be something good.
What a wonderful thing life would be if it were that easy. It’s not though. Humans have a habit of complicating their own lives, our lives. We seem to do things for a purpose that suits us rather than doing it for the sake of doing it and giving pleasure or hope. I think when I started writing my novel I subconsciously created ‘broken people’ because I wanted to show what a difference it makes when we pay it forward. It is Lia’s gentle nature that wins Nico over and not the chemistry between them. Lia knows how to stand up for herself. She is strong and determined but she is a giver, and I have surrounded her with difficult people because I think it displays the power that giving holds.
When Nico goes to Sydney to bring Lia back he is threatened by the people who love her. He sees himself as an outsider. It is Lia’s friend Robert who helps Nico understand that what she has paid forward to her friends is extended to him. They trust her judgement and are willing to take a chance on Nico despite what he did.
“You hurt her. The only reason I haven’t punched you in that arrogant face, is because you hurt yourself more.” Robert finished washing the coffee cups and wiped his hands on the paper towelling. He moved closer to the other man and risked a hand on Nico’s shoulder. “She has us whether she lives here or Italy. You can too, if you let us.” Nico let the hand sit a little while, before moving away and heading towards the door.
There are so many ways to pay it forward. You do it by being a willing listener, or by a friendly smile, or simple acts of kindness. Just recently, a friend sent me some earrings with tiny butterflies all over them. She knows I have been stressed for these last few months and she knows I have an obsessive attachment to butterflies. My cousin sent the most beautiful flowers, and another friend is a willing ear, even though distance makes it hard. Small actions like this strengthen relationships and have moreover, a universal effect. The receiver of the payment forward is filled with the desire to help others, to pass on the good feeling.
With writers, reviews mean so much. It is the only way we have to take note of the reader’s thoughts. With bloggers, a like and a comment can make all the difference to their work. It is acknowledging they are reaching you with their words. Reviews and comments are a forward payment that inspires the writer to improve. I personally love reading other people’s work whether it be their books or their blogs or the tidbits of their lives that their social media delivers. I always review and always comment because I know how much work it entails to put pen to paper. It has been one of the ways I choose to pay it forward in a world that is competitive, and too often heart-breaking. Do I hope to get it back? Of course I do. I am human but it’s not why I do it. It’s about paying it forward.
Until next time,