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. We post the second Wednesday of every month.
So I mentioned this a little last week and was actually worried that it wasn't the best choice in radical kindness but over the last few days, I have been proven way wrong. Let me back up. When I first started to really think about RADICAL KINDNESS, I had to think what I could possibly offer in kindness. Not that I'm not a kind person, but it's not like I'm a good cook so I can feed home-bound neighbors, I am not the most timely at writing cards to the people I love, I haven't knit a scarf or hat for anyone in over a year. So what was I going to bring to the table?
Then it occurred to me that one of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer was for someone to do a VERY critical analysis of my writing and tell me all the bad first time writer habits I was doing. It changed everything for me. And since I wasn't bogged down in bad writing, I was able to find my voice.
And I realized that many of the folks participating in the Kindness Project do these wonderful and supportive things for other writers ALL THE TIME. So I thought...well, I *am* an editor in my day job and I *do* know a few basic things that might help new writers get out of their own way and actually write so maybe, maybe, maybe...
And then I met a woman who asked me to mentor her. And then I met a teenager who was frustrated and feeling defeated by her book. So I offered to help both of them. And I didn't really know how it would go because sometimes people seem to want help, but then when you really tell them some concrete things that need to be changed about their writing, they get kind of prickly about it. BUT, it turned out okay. Better than okay, actually. And now I've helped the teenager with her query (and steered her to Matt and Elana as experts in this area). And I'm also working on going through the woman's book for a second pass edit.
This might all mean nothing. It might not help at all. But if it can encourage people to keep trying, help them get a little better, and make them feel like they aren't doomed to fail, I think it's a win. What about you all? Have you ever considered mentoring newer writers?