Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Being Friendly

Today I attended the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem. As a featured author at the Winston-Salem Writers table, I spent my time meeting and greeting folks who meandered up to the table and perused the books by our authors. We just ... well ... talked shop!

I ran into to Quinn Dalton, a lovely lady with just as lovely of a personality. We chatted awhile. Then I spent some time with Sheryl Monks ( ... what a special woman with a heart for writers. I met her mama who sat next to her at the Press 53 table. It's a blast to talk writing with folks who love it as much as I do. I often run into the same writers/editors/publishers on the "circut." It's soothing to my writer's soul, catching up with these folks.

There are many emerging writers who attend these festivals. I love encouraging the newbies because there's much to learn and many routes in which to go. The new writers eyes are wide and their hearts are even wider. They absorb it quickly.

I find great and enormous satisfaction rise up when I plant a seed of encouragement. Then when I see the harvest of that seed, I know I did a good thing.

A few years ago, I spoke at historical society that really ... didn't draw many folks to the event. But one little, pretty lady showed up at my table and we talked for quite a while about writing. We shared our stories and our lives, and in the end we kept in touch throughout the years. She felt so unsure of herself, but over time this precious woman blossomed! Recently, she mustered up the courage to enter a writing contest, in which she won third place!

I saw her today. Her smile and her warm eyes were penetrating. She's still trying to gain confidence, but she's definitely on her way! I expect great things out of her in the future. I can feel it. It's coming.

Very simply, in taking the time to get to know her, encourage her, I encouraged myself.

Are you getting my point?

Today, I also sat next to a table (the group shall remain nameless) where a prominent member of this popular group manned the table. Few folks visited their table (at least not while I was there) but one thing really bothered me. The prominent member never smiled. Not once. Not to me or anyone who walked up to their table. The cold personality of this person blew my way. I felt it. I tried to make eye contact, speak, even nodded a hello ... but nothing was returned. Even though this person knew I've been a great supporter of the group. I felt heartsick.

Here's the thing, folks. It doesn't take much energy to be friendly. If you're in the public eye, representing a group, cover your bad mood and slap a smile on your face. I'm wondering how much of this cold personality has taken over their group? Oh sure, I watched this person speak to folks who they thought were "important." But to the little fella ... it was quite a different story. Amazing.

I hope to God, if I've ever snubbed another human being, I've made some sort of restitution. Listen, there's no excuse for not offering your hand to your fellow man. Do I sound preachy? I hope so. I'm about fed up with cruel people, unkind jerks, and holier-than-thou humans who think that because they've "been there" and "done that" that they don't have to lower themselves to befriend the woman standing next to them.

I'm no saint. I've made mistakes. Plenty of them. But God knows I'll never put myself up on some sort of a pedestal. We're all made out of the same kind of mud. If you're a writer that has experienced any kind of success, it's your responsibility to take the emerging writer's hand next to you and pull them up.

Let's all just get over our big, bad selves. How about it?

Love covers a multitude of sins. It's time we thought about that. So what if being friendly doesn't come natural to you. So what if you have to fake it. Maybe if you fake it enough, it'll become real. Be a friend. It's the best feeling in the world.

Blessings to you and yours.

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