It’s been a rough week. I submitted the first chapter of a book i’ve been working on to this website that is run by a published author/editor and has peer contributions. It took about two weeks for my submission to end up on the front page of this site. Want to know the address of the site it was on?
Let me tell you why. For two weeks i pondered how this chapter would be received. The optimist in me (the one who should be smacked in the face with a hot frying pan) Thought it couldn’t fail- it had everything that a first chapter should have. I had a few people read it over before i sent it- and it got the thumbs up go-ahead. And worse case scenario, the peers would hate it but the editor would appreciate it. I’ve been writing for quite some time time- my experience has to show. And then it happened- i got the notification that my chapter had been submitted. I logged on to the site… and was met with some pretty harsh criticism from the editor. So i went about my day, and thought “surely the peers that frequent the site will vote that it’s good” (there’s a polling option on whether or not you would continue reading). When i got home that evening, i was met with super harsh criticism and an overwhelming amount of NOs. There were only two people who voted yes: myself and (speculating here) a confused old lady who though that she was voting no). Now i feel that it should be noted that these harsh criticisms did not make me crumble and cry and mope and give up writing. It just stung a bit and made me think “MAN, the internet is harsh.”
I’m involved with a writing group with a bunch of friends, and we all write and critique each others work. Even when a friend is a bit too harsh on something i wrote, its ok- because they’re my friend. I know that they are not coming from a malicious place. But when a random internet stranger does it… it feels a bit like being sucker punched. So, in light of this harsh dose of digital reality, the list this time around:
Top 5 reasons you should be kind.
5) You could live forever in someone’s memories. I will never forget the guy who pulled up in the El Camino and asked if I needed a ride when he saw that i had been waiting 2 hours for a tow truck at the gas station. Or the teenage girl walking down the sidewalk who asked if i needed help carrying in my groceries. Or the neighbor who brought over a tray of delicious food when your grandma died. Who wouldn’t want to hold a place like that in the special “memories worth keeping” file in someone’s brain??
4) You’re going to die. Spoiler alert! You get one shot at this life, and that’s it. You could spend it making people feel down and dejected so that you yourself can sit high atop a mountain of others’ despair, only to inevitably die and be forgotten… OR you can be kind, and helpful. And maybe your words could inspire someone to do something great. And their great works will be passed along to the next generation…. and in essence… you will be living forever!
3) You could be the dedication in someone’s book. Yup, this is the driving force behind this post. Writing a book is hard. It takes a long time to conjure up a story, hone this skill to write it, and find the time to put it down. All the while you are fighting the voices that are telling you “No one will read this, why are you doing this?” When you are critical of someone’s hard work, you are tearing them down. This could be said of any craft. If you want to be on a dedication page, receive a bouquet of flowers, a high five, or a really long and awkward hug—- be constructive AND kind when reviewing something.
2) Tittat. It should never, ever be the reason you are nice… it’s just a perk. Tit for tat- if you are nice to me, i’ll be nice to you. It’s the reason why 100 people at McDonalds got free food that one day. And why did it stop? Some jerk. Some jerk who wasn’t a nice guy.
1) We’re all in this together. Winters are cold, jobs are monotonous, bills are expensive, the good foods are never the ones good for you, people get sick, things break or get lost, and there’s never enough time. But the one thing we can control- people don’t have to be cruel.