Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole . It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.
I have never been shy about talking how amazing I think all the writers I've met via blogging, Twitter, conferences, etc. are. They have always been gracious and helpful and have literally changed my life in many, many ways.
One of those people is my friend Jolene. She lives in Alaska. I may never meet her and yet she has done something extraordinary for me. Some of you know that when I was in college, my very dear friend from high school Joel died in a car accident. I wish I could tell you what an amazing guy he was. Great friend. Genuine and optimistic and smart and wonderful. It gutted me when I lost him.
When I first started writing YA books, I knew I wanted to one day write a story about Joel. And I thought I was ready for it. It's been fifteen years. But somehow, I couldn't do it. Until Jolene said she'd collaborate with me on it. Joel became Kyle. And within a day, Jolene sent me this:
"It was stupid to come here for this.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to Kyle. I don’t think I can. My soul has been shredded in so many ways that I can’t believe I’m still breathing. The room’s the same. Smells the same. He can’t be gone with all the sameness around me.
The paper’s soft in my hand. His words are everything and nothing I expected.
My heart breaks. Shatters. Splinters into so many millions of shards I know it won’t ever be the same again. How could it be?
He was everything, and I didn’t get it. Didn’t know it. Didn’t see it."
Jolene has no idea how much writing this book has saved my soul. Brutally honest and very hard to write and there she was every day saying, "This is amazing. This is working. Joel would love this." Even though she never met him. And the thing is, he WOULD love it. It's not his story anymore, but everything that needed to come out of me in regards to how I felt about losing him gotten woven into that book. My words and Jo's words all mixed together.
The other thing that I love about Jo is that when I'm having a rough day, she sometimes sends me a message saying, "You're a fucking brilliant writer" even though she's also wrangling Medicaid and a bunch of other shitty things that she sometimes has to deal with. This is kindness to me. Kindness in the form of a message in the midst of chaos saying, "You're amazing."
So many of the writers participating in this project have done the same thing for me. I adore them all. You should know them and love them too. And go visit their blogs.