“ Leaving comments is a great way to support your fellow writers,” read Brenda Leyland’s e-mail on the listserv a few weeks ago. I cannot agree more. We, writers, whether we acknowledge it or not, thrive on compliments, applauds or any kind of encouragement. If not for the comments left on our postings, the nod of approval at the writers’ group, the sound of clapping at the book reading or the hopeful foot-note of the editor on our returned manuscript, some of us would have given up writing a long time ago.
You cannot fathom the empowerment of such words, whether written in a line as a comment or said in a few sentences. Especially if the compliment comes to a beginner or a struggling writer from an accomplished fellow writer, a well known author or an editor, it becomes the wind beneath the wings to propel the recipient to another height.
It’s going to be twelve years since I had the privilege of getting the compliment from the mouth of Linda Hall, a well known author, and the guest speaker at the 2000 ICWF Fall Conference. The previous evening she had heard me read my poems at the poetry reading session.
Being new to writing, and not having met any writer before, I was clueless as to what to expect at the Writers’ Conference when I arrived. In case I was asked to read some of my work, I had brought with me the three poems I had ever written, and traveled all the way from Saskatoon by bus.
Although I never intended to read my poems , no sooner had I spotted the Our Family magazine on the display table with my poem, Am I A Christian? , I braved enough to put down my name for the poetry reading that evening. Little did I realize at that time that the poetry session titled Peanut Butter and Jam was meant for light, funny and laughter- provoking readings, rather than the serious and spiritual ones like mine. Only when I sat and listened to others' poems and the holler of laughter following the readings, did I realize my mistake. But it was too late for me to withdraw or to exit from the packed auditorium without being noticed. So, left with no option, I went and read out my poems when my name was called out.
The next morning, when I heard Linda Hall on the stage mention about one of my poems and say how much she was inspired by it, I felt as if I was suddenly airlifted to heaven. For a beginner like me to hear a compliment publicly from a great author like Linda Hall was beyond my expectation. She need not have bothered to take a few moments out of her speaking time to compliment an unknown writer like me. But she did. It surely reflected something great about her, other than her writing. There's no doubt, Hall would have forgotten about it no sooner she got down from the stage on that morning. But I haven’t. It’s still fresh in my mind as if it happened only a week ago.
The author's compliment as well as what I learned at the conference from other writers energized me to write and submit an article to Fellowscript as soon as I returned home. Result-“ Never Do” Wisdom for Budding Writers was published with my byline in Fellowscript in the following Spring.
Even though, it's not advisable to rely on others' approval and appreciation for our success, encouraging words do play a key role in keeping us on course. Blogging may be the only kind of writing some maybe doing at this season of their writing. As Brenda suggested, leaving comments is a great way to support our fellow writers. It does take time and effort. But, it’s within our power to do it, whether we are well known authors or unpublished ones.
“Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27.