Wicked Wednesday — A Gift of Kindness

No act of kindness, not matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop

This time of year one’s thoughts are often on gifts. What is a gift of kindness that you’ve received? Did it come from a stranger, a friend, or a family member? How did you react?

Liz: I’m so blessed to have so many awesome friends. This question makes me think of last year when I was going through a tough time and my Wicked sisters and their significant others stepped up to help me in so many ways–with the blog, with holidays, with advice, and just always being there for me in every possible way. I will always be thankful to all of you for that and everything you do!

Sherry: Five or six years ago we met a friend of our daughter’s and her family at a hotel in DC. It was a really hot day so my husband dropped us off and went to find a parking spot. (The hotel parking was ridiculously expensive.) We had a great afternoon. Bob said the car was parked near the National Zoo so we climbed up the hill toward the zoo. He soon realized we’d gone to far so we reversed directions and started walking up and down side streets. Did I mention it was hot out? Elizabeth and I sat on a stone wall in front of someone’s house to take a break. A woman pulled up in her car and asked what was wrong. We explained the situation and she offered to drive Bob around to look for the car. She asked where we were from and when we told her northern Virginia, she laughed. She said usually lost people were from some place far away like Minnesota. They found the car and now Bob snaps a picture of a nearby intersection when we are out and about.

Barb: When I worked as a freelance title examiner my old law firm hired me to serve a supoena. Which was ridiculous. I don’t know why they asked me and I don’t know why I said yes. Anyway, the person I was supposed to serve lived in a brand new condominium complex back in the days when the idea of condominiums in the suburbs was very new. So here I was, this anxious young girl wandering around this complex where none of the streets were marked and none of the townhouses had numbers and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Then, a older mailman appeared out of nowhere and asked me if I was lost. “You lookin’ for one of them pandemoniums?” he asked. “I’ll show ya.” As we walked along he asked me why if I was doing this, I wasn’t studying to be a lawyer. I told him I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a writer, but it was very hard to do and very hard to make a living. “Don’t worry about that,” he said. “The cream will always rise.” Then he deposited me at the front door of the place I needed to be and walked out of my life.

Edith: Wow, Barb – and it did! Kindness: in 1998 I lived with my husband and sons, ages 10 and 12, in the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa for a year. My husband had to go to Guinea for two weeks and there’s only one flight a week. While he was gone I came down with typhoid fever despite having been immunized and was the sickest I have ever been. I spent my days in the embassy infirmary. The mothers (one Dutch, one American) of two of my sons’ friends picked them up from the International School, fed them, brought them home to sleep, and took them for a weekend day, too. Our cook made me soup. And gradually I got better. Jeanine, the American mom, invited us for Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve never been more grateful. (And I have just reconnected with her on Facebook!) Below Jeanine now and me in Burkina Faso in 1998 with another Edith, an old friend from grad school days.

 

Julie: Well, my dear Wickeds, I am teary reading your posts. I have been blessed by kindness often in my life. On favorite writing memory was my first Sisters in Crime New England meeting. Hallie Ephron was president, and the meeting was at her house. I was a wreck. My friend Mary and I went together to the meeting, and sat in the car until a few people came in. I had seen Dana Cameron at Malice, and had read her first Emma Fielding book. I saw her in the line for food, and mentioned that I’d liked the book. She thanked me, and then asked me about my writing, and what my WIP was about. She made me feel like a real writer.

Readers: Please share your memory of someone being kind to you.

Way Back Time Machine Moment

JAH80sThis week I did two career day talks at a high school. One of the students asked me what advice I would give myself in high school. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I tell my students to be brave, to take risks, but really, what would I tell the younger Julie?

  1. Take the business minor. You’ll need it later. But you’re right about trigonometry.
  2. Enjoy the shoulder pads. They aren’t coming back, and you rock them.
  3. Red lipstick always works.
  4. You’re perfect just the way you are. Honestly, I have been on a diet for most of my life, and didn’t need to be back then. I was fine.
  5. Regrets are such a waste of time. Both having them, and avoiding them.
  6. Being nice and being kind aren’t the same thing. You don’t always have to be nice, you always need to be kind.
  7. Take risks. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, or someone says no. And really, how bad is that?
  8. Worrying about what other people think is such a waste of time. You can’t control it. All you can control is how you behave. Behave well.
  9. Your life won’t work out the way you expect. It will be great, but different. Trust fate.
  10. You know that dream of being a writer? It works out.

So, what would you tell your younger self?

Kindness

Jessie:

Surrounded by dragonflies and wild asters in the Granite State

I recently discovered that September is Be Kind To Editors & Writers Month. It made me give some serious thought as to how someone would go about implementing this sentiment. I am very fond of my own editor and try to be kind by meeting my deadlines, communicating with courtesy, and realizing my books are not her only responsibility.

But what about writers? How is it best to be kind to them? The first things that come to mind are to buy books written by your favorite authors and tell other people that you enjoyed them. Word of mouth from readers keeps the writers you love in business. And while on the subject of buying books, it would be kind to purchase books that are still in print new instead of used.

librarycartAsking your library to carry books by your favorite authors is another tremendous kindness. Writers love libraries and we all feel so privileged to be included in library collections. If I had to guess most writers still working on being published  have stood in a library at the spot their books would be alphabetically shelved and imagined their work there. I know I have.

Writing a letter to a writer whose work you enjoyed is another kindness.I can’t speak for everyone but I know I love to hear from readers. Writers generally work in isolation instead of on a team or in a setting that provides any sort of real time feedback. We take a bunch of disjointed bits from the world around us and spend the better part of a year turning them into what we hope will be worthy of our readers’ time. I can’t tell you how many times I have been having a tough week on the work front when a letter arrives from a reader saying he or she had fun in my imaginary world. And miraculously, the work gets easier and the week gets better.

Finally, and I think, most importantly, show the kids in your life that you value reading. Share your passion for stories with them by taking them to a story time at the library or reading to them at night before bed. Be the relative or family friend who gives books as gifts. You may find you are helping to encourage the next generation of writer.