Pointing the way to the houseboat museum. Lifting someone’s luggage up the subway stairs with him. Taking a photo of a couple on a bridge. Sharing my map with a woman and her daughter.
I can’t not help. When I see someone in need, my first impulse is to help.
I was recently asked to write about why I do what I do. Why do I coach writers and artists? Why do I guide people to claim their own authority so they can write their stories?
Perhaps it hearkens back to my days of a different kind of service, when I waited tables and sold books at a corner bookshop. People came in and I was there to help. This urge to serve is embedded in my social code, and in my work ethic.
A positive perspective for writers
Years ago, as a young writer, I attended a reading at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I don’t recall the author, but I do remember his message: the writing life stinks, publishing sucks, and if you take him as a model, by the age of 50 you’ll be cranky and bitter, all your words washed away by the uncaring, cruel world.
On the bus home from that discouraging talk, something rose up in me. A determination. A resolve. A knowledge that the sour author was speaking a truth – his truth. And that while the writing life may be an uphill battle, it was one I couldn’t deny.
My clients and students are like me – hearing the call to write and despite all good advice to run far and fast from the writing impulse, they’re heeding it. Following in the footsteps of Julia Cameron, I believe that if you have the impulse to write, you must follow it.
A fool’s journey
To take up the pen and write is an act of foolish courage. It requires bravery, and a willingness to shut away all the negative voices that shout their bad advice (to paraphrase poet Mary Oliver).
I know how tender we are when we step forth and admit we want something. When clients and students ask for my help developing their writing life, I already believe they are heroes and am honored to help.
I help with them overcome the issues creative people face. I help boost their confidence. I help sharpen their focus. I help clear away the inner and outer underbrush that gets us tangled up when we try to create something.
All of this helping helps me, too. I feel connected to the rushing river of the creative process, in all its eddies and twists. I feel connected to others, to our deep humanity that so truly wants to generate good things. And I feel connected to my own impulse to write, the humility and grace that’s required to keep on writing.
Even when I’m in a foreign country, people constantly stop and ask me for directions. I think they sense I’m a helpful person. It makes my day to point the way for others. It’s my work, and I’m grateful to do it.
I teach, coach and write because I am here to help people express their unique selves and claim their creative authority. Here’s more about my work.
Why do you do what you do?