My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.
The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or in a school setting. All are examples of a beautiful way to both give and receive.
At many conferences, I watch writers joyfully train their replacements! Think about it. Teaching others the inside scoop on how to write well, and more, helps improve those who later become competition. And yet the acrimony of competition is missing entirely. It is a wonderful thing.
To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.
As our agency believes, we are in the business of helping to change the world word by word.
I am talking about the things we treasure, like our money. I particularly like the epigram from Ellie Kay who wrote, “The sweetest dollar you ever make is the one you give away.” That is so true! Cynthia Ruchti wrote (in the CBA Marketplace) about a number of novelists who have tied the revenue of their work to various charities. One example from the article is novelist Loree Lough who consistently donates a portion of her proceeds to causes like autism research, Soldiers’ Angels, Wounded Warrior Project, the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, and others. There are a number of writers, editors, agents, and publishers who do the same or tie content in their books to specific charities or causes. Many do so in anonymity.
Time, talent, and treasure … three things that we can give in this season of giving.
How have you benefited from the gift of another writer?
How do you plan to give back to others?
[An earlier version of this post ran in December 2011.]
Rick, what a great “instrument” for giving! This is dear to my heart because my dad was a junior high band teacher. If he were still alive, he would jump on the opportunity to participate. Each year, our family gives a contribution in his name to one of a number of charities. I have a new idea to share with them this year!
Cynthia, I’m especially looking for a good used clarinet for a church in Vyatskie Polyany, Russia. (But nothing huge, like tubas, please! Lol.) Oh, and our ministry can provide tax-deductible statements for anyone who wants one.
Steve, thanks for the mention about the article regarding authors who make a beyond-the-pages impact through their books. The research for that article was stirring. And space constraints meant room for only a few of the many novelists who write with a heart to bless others not only with their stories but with their compassion, too.
I also have come to view marketing as one of life’s most dubious pursuits. Whenever a new channel opens up, it quickly gets bogged down by over-enthusiasts and spammers. The only truly sustainable marketing is reciprocation. It is about reinvesting the benefits gained from customers and other stakeholders, through reinvestment in their markets. In terms of raw return on investment it is by far the most efficient marketing approach. It also adds the personal glue that makes such a difference in an impersonal world, so the payoff is exponential. I daily see marketers wasting scarce resources with traditional above-the-line efforts, on a world that is predisposed to saying “No”. Yet when I see a firm using its marketing budget as an incentive to customers or dealers, they always reap direct loyalty and market share benefits.
Joyfully training our replacements–good advice for all ministry–thanks, Steve!
Lena Nelson Dooley opens her home for a critique group for three hours every Thursday and has done so for years. I am blessed to be one of many who have benefited from her mentorship. I am eternally grateful.
Kathy L Bruins
This may have been published in 2011, but my hope is that it is a stronger truth today. Helping you is helping all. Give not until it hurts, but until it feels so good, you can’t get enough.
Sharon K Connell
Oh boy…where do I start. Help I’ve received from other authors. I’d need a blog of my own. I’m a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and their critique group called Scribes. I’ve been given so much sound help from the members of this group, I couldn’t even begin to tell you all the different ways from punctuation to writing style to grammar. Then there’s my Facebook group forum, Christian Writers & Readers and the over 1000 members. They are the biggest encouragement to me. My readers, my friends, etc. They all give so much. and Arnie? Well, Arnie does a lot of things around the house that he really doesn’t need to do, just to allow me to work.
Regarding giving myself, I’ve been thinking of giving a portion of my proceeds to SPCA for the animals they rescue. It’s where we got our sweet Suzie, and they are a worthy organization. God told us to care for our beasts, too.
Thank you for this timely article, Steve.
Can’t resist sharing this link to a sweet story entitled “Dog Guards Burnt Calif. Home for Weeks.” (Sometimes they take care of us, too!)
When we have the attitude that sharing freely of our gifts and talents to help others in our field succeed would only take away from our “slice” of the audience or client base, we only hurt ourselves. When we make helping others a part of our callings, we often find ourselves enriched, encouraged and energized for our own work.
This blog is itself an example of a gift given to other writers. I’ve benefitted so much from this blog and I know many others have as well. So thank you to Steve Laube and all the other agents here. I’ve also been blessed by many writers who have given their time to critique my work, which has inspired me to seek out beginning writers whom I can also critique. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Absent the talent to touch hearts, and any of the qualifications needed for mentorship, I try to encourage where I can.
The right word at the right time can change a life.
You are absolutely a mentor!
Extra points when your words of encouragement scan and rhyme.
Janet Ann Collins
I benefit from what you post here, as well as writers in critique groups, at conferences, and those I interact with online.
I am blessed by other authors who share their wisdom and give me daily encouragement. What a wonderful blessing!
Thank you for this topic. In the short time I have been involved in the writing community, I have been impressed with the generosity of authors, editors and agents who freely share their knowledge and experience with those of us who are novices. This blog is one example.
When my novel is released early next year, I hope one gift will be to entertain readers while informing and inspiring them. In addition, my husband and I have plans for the proceeds (if there are any) to go to worthy organizations.
I’ve donated a number of books to the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s in TN. Parents and young people spend long hours in those rooms and books can provide enjoyable moments to transport them to another time and place. One father whose son was in the Milwaukee hospital, was at our home for a meal. He called to check on his son who told him to call back later because he was in a very exciting part of the book. That makes the hours we spend writing, very worthwhile.
Several authors have impacted my writing life, even those who don’t realize they’ve helped. In return, I love it when I can encourage and inspire others. In the new year, I’d love to start a monthly book review on my blog. I think that’s another way I can give back to those who have blessed me.
Many years ago as a younger writer and younger person, it would have been nearer my true feelings to say praise and approval from another (respected) writer were the greatest gifts to receive. I think very differently now, thank God! Honest criticism – the truth in love – is the greatest gift I have received from another writer. Saint Nicholas of Myra (whose feast was observed last week) may be best remembered for his secret monetary gifts to those in need, but perhaps one of the most important gifts he gave was to the heretic Arius at the first ecumenical council at Nycaea. When Arius challenged the divinity of Christ, our dear, meek Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, punched Arius in the nose. “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil” (Psalm 141:5). I’d rather receive the gift of a hard word that proves to be a medicine either to my soul or my writing, than flattery that will only harm me. I have benefited from the gift of several bloody noses in my writing life, and I thank God for them.
I don’t relish being on the receiving end of bloody noses, but I love this story about St. Nicolas. I only heard it for the first time as an adult, at a home schooling conference some years ago. This year, I shared it with my children when we studied the Council of Nicea.
I believe there are actually icons of this famous punch.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work, as literal punches seldom do. They had to argue with Arias for the rest of their lives. And thank God they did!
Thanks for sharing this story during Advent.
Jennifer, you’re right. There are some very striking (pardon the pun) icons of Saint Nicholas punching Arius. I have had to caution my own son in the past that giving generously is for everyone, but punching heretics is best left to the saints!
Writers give … by writing.
A novel is a MAJOR cognitive experience that takes many days to go through and to digest. The best ones are spiritual experiences as well.
I now know that a book that I chew on for days or weeks, probably took years to produce. Thanks, writers. Special thanks to C.S. Lewis, Ellis Peters, Dick Francis, and Ursula Le Guin. And, of course, JRR Tolkien.
Yes—I feel this deeply. When writing comes from our essence, we are truly giving of ourselves.
My mentor, Jim Rubart, went out of his way to read my work and then endorse me personally to some agents that I’d pitched. That led to working with Steve, which led to working with HarperCollins Christian, which will lead to two books coming out next year. I wouldn’t be here without Jim’s gift of time and endorsement.
My challenge is to now rise to meet that level of generosity with someone else. And I will.
Love this post and blog. The comments always touch me. I have learned a lot from agents, especially the Steve Laube Agency, though there are others (even the many, many rejections over the years without comment are a type of encouragement). The SLA and free resources and specials on books, podcasts are a blessing. Each agent has been a blessing to me.
I had joined a critique group and learned a lot in that space. Many people critiqued and have given me great ideas. I hope that some of my comments/critiques over several years have helped in the learning process for others.
Having absolutely no Christian critiquers perplexed me for a time until I realized as the novel progressed the Gospel was spread. That is a blessing to me. Readers that ‘get it,’ that want more Scripture (!) and to atheists, Muslims, agnostics has absolutely thrown me! God’s blessings, mercy and grace does indeed fill something by Steve (that would be you…) that I’ve not forgotten. ‘Bring the books, especially the parchments.’ How encouraging to understand that my desire to write is not selfish. When God puts something on our heart, He means for us to share, not hoard.
Claire, all this is so good to hear. I am so glad your book is spreading the Gospel … I assume you mean through fiction? The sneakiest way of all?
“Of the making of books there is no end” … and it’s tempting to wonder why I should go to the trouble of adding mine to the pile, especially when nobody seems to want it. But, it’s not just a selfish hobby, it’s something I have been given, and apparently, ordered to give to others. After 55 rejections, I would be incredibly arrogant to keep submitting unless I had no option but to do so.
I ‘get’ the many rejections! On the critique site I was on, Scribophile, the requirements require genres, and mine was Christian romance.
I didn’t see it as subterfuge, which I guess it could be, however I was interested in Christians critiquing and belonged to half dozen of Christian critique groups within Scribophile.
Why (I am going out on a limb here and say it was God that did this!) non-Christians read all the way through still perplexes me. Not. One. Christian.
At first, I was a bit peeved. Then as time went on (because the process took foooorrrreeevvvverrrr) and different people came to critique, I realized what it was: spreading the Gospel (and imagine that, I didn’t even know!). More Scripture? Requests from non-Christians?
In the beta group following, there was an agnostic, an atheist and a Muslim (sounds like a ‘go into a bar joke) and the Muslim woman is a playright in England, and kept asking questions. I prayed and prayed, and another Christian shared with her. Last I heard was that the words I spoke (that God used through situations and scripture) she’d never heard, but they resonated with her. I cried. And pray (still do) for those who read, not understanding that God was introducing His identity and His purpose, just as my main character.
Wow. Thank you for sharing. All glory to God!
I think it’s harder when you are just getting into the field but conferences are a great way to meet other writers and hopefully find those who are willing to help. Susie May Warren is always willing to help new writers giving advice, etc. and I’ve found Jim Rubart to be equally honest and helpful. I hope to do the same for others. I try to be available to those writers who I’ve met and support them in their book launches, and even just being a sounding board. It’s all for the glory of Jesus so why wouldn’t we be there for each other.
I wouldn’t be a writer without several people who mentored me.
Great post, Steve. Thank you!
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D
Steve, thanks for reminding us to give back. Your team gives to all of us on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, and I pray that the Lord will bless you for all you do to help us learn our craft.
Thanks, Steve. Your blogs and those of your other agents have blessed and taught me far beyond what you ever could know. Thanks for investing in us!