Posts Tagged With: stories

Give and Thou Shalt Receive: But What Do You Have to Give?

Dear writers,


The key to success in this world is generosity. It stands to reason, it’s common sense, and if you don’t know it, learn it: The more you give, the more you receive. If you’re a writer or a blogger or just any other kind of breather, then you’re alive, and that means you have something to give. But one of my personal struggles has been wondering, What do I have to give?

I have stories. Yeah, I love to write stories, and I love to give them to the world, and they’re fun to blog sometimes, but the truth is this: That’s not enough. I’m not going to get thousands of followers who buy my books by blogging short stories.

If I want to receive followers, I have to give something meaningful to them, earn their trust and make them feel that reading my books will be worth their time, and then I will receive more readers to whom I will be able to give the stories I have to tell: it’s a win-win in the end, but it’s a lot of work for me on the way. I know that, that’s what I signed up for and that’s why I’m here.

But what can I offer you, and all the people out there, that would be meaningful, that would earn your trust and respect? That’s the question. That’s the question you might be struggling with, too:


What Do You Have to Give?

Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum via Compfight cc (altered)

Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum via Compfight cc (altered)

You’re just a writer. You’ve led a simple, unexciting, unassuming life. That’s probably why you’re a writer. You’re not a specialist in life coaching or social media marketing, you haven’t traveled all over the world or gone through traumatic near-fatal experiences. You’re just—you.

You don’t have to be you when you write. That’s why you’re a writer. When you write, you can transcend your own life. When you’re blogging, you have to draw from your own life and your own experiences, and heck . . . what do you really know?

We’ve actually mentioned an answer twice now. “That’s why you’re a writer.”

Right? You know what makes you a writer. You know what inspires you. You know what makes you who you are. You know the dark, secret places of your own heart. You know human emotion because you’re a human and you’ve felt emotion

You know the truth about yourself. But your readers don’t.


What Do Your Readers Need?

That’s the important thing to remember here. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

What they need from you is you. Just—you. Plain, simple, unexciting, unassuming, you. Not the expert knowledge you wish you had, they don’t need that. They just need the real you.

They need the truth. They need to know who you are inside. I don’t give a cow’s belch for a writer’s alphabet-soup degrees or their professional expertise. They’re artists, and what real readers want to know is them.

Real readers want to know who you are.

You might be afraid of opening yourself up: don’t be. You tell the truth behind the mask of fiction; take the mask off, take courage, and be honest. Your readers will respect you for it.

You might be afraid of wasting your reader’s time with your sob stories: don’t be. Some readers won’t care, it’s true. So they’ll move on. But there are others who won’t. There are others who will be touched.

Because you’ve lived your life, and that’s the story you have to tell. That’s what will inspire people. Maybe you’ve gone through a situation similar to theirs, and you have some practical wisdom to impart, or maybe a message of hope. Maybe it’s just the words “you’re not alone.”

And that’s just it. You’re not alone. Whatever you’ve gone through—and everyone has gone through something—someone else is going through right now and thinking they’re the only one. They’re waiting for you to show them that they’re not. They’re waiting for you to tell them they’re not alone, that others have been through this and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s what writing about. It’s about telling a story so someone somewhere, someday, will read it and say, “Look what they did. Look what they knew. Look what they learned. They went through exactly what I’m going through now. They lived.” And in that there’s hope; in the knowledge that someone before us went through life and survived it.

Look back on your life to a time when you were crying out to someone and there was no answer. Reach out to that person now and answer them. You may be surprised how many people are waiting to hear your voice.


Do you have an important story to share with the world? Have you recently shared one on your blog or written a book about it? Share with me, do a little plugging!

Categories: Imagining a Better World, Writing Passion | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Philosophia Venereum: Speculum Pulchritudine

Speculum Pulchritudine

Smiles are the foundation of beauty.”

— Edgar Rice Burroughs


“You know,” she said suddenly, “your grandmother says I have your smile. And she’s not the first, Sarah’s told me the same thing.”

“I hope you thank them both on my behalf?”

“On both our be—behalfs? Or is it behalves? Anyway, I was complimented too, you know.”

“Complimented? That’s like saying you’re as cute as a bug, which is something my grandmother would say.”

She gave a jingling laugh. “She has. What’s your point?”

“Well, it may sound sweet, but when’s the last time you saw a cute bug?”

“Are you saying it wasn’t a compliment?”

“I’m sure she meant it like one, but she might as well have told you that you have a smile like a warthog.”

Photo Credit: Jack Fussell via Compfight cc  (altered)

Photo Credit: Jack Fussell via Compfight cc (altered)

“You don’t think our smiles look anything alike?”“Were that my smile were half as marvelous as thine!”

“I thought it was a sweet thing to say.”

“Oh, it was! And don’t think I’m not honored that my grandmother thinks my smile looks anything like yours. It’s probaly the highest compliment I’ve ever received. And I do think I will agree, insofar as our smiles are structurally, physically, similar.”

“Then what makes them so different?”

We came upon a bench and she suggested we sit. The bench gave us a perfect vantage point to admire the gilded trees; even the streets which seemed to be paved with gold. The world had become a reflection of the sun’s light, shining like the treasure trove it is.

There was a brief pause as we sat, and the world seemed hushed for a moment, bracing itself, like she was, for my answer. I turned to her, and she turned to me, and the corners of her lips twitched up, and her eyes sparkled.

“And that, that exactly,” I said, framing her face with my hands, “is the difference. That’s the difference between our smiles. Do you want to know something? You can’t see yourself, except in mirrors, so you’ve probably never noticed it; and I doubt if most eyes would notice it, anyway, and so probably you’ve never heard it. You never smile.”

She tilted her head questioningly, but said nothing, waiting for me to go on.

“And that’s the difference! That’s the secret. You never smile. Me, I smile all the time. I can’t help myself. But you—never. You’ve looked at me several times today, but you didn’t smile once. Not once. No. Every time you glowed.

“Your face sort of contracts, and each of the features gathers close to the center with the others to enjoy one another’s company. And then your eyes . . . how can I describe it? They brighten, they shine, they twinkle; they narrow, they wrinkle; they quiver, and—vibrate. And most amazingly, this incredible expression of joy—so far above anything as base as a smile—doesn’t even involve any movement of your lips! Not always. Your lips don’t always glow with the rest of your face. They’ll just tighten and bend up, but they won’t glow. When they do—when they part and widen in what is known to the vulgar tongue as a smile—they open on an absolute wonderland of euphoria and delight, through a portal that reveals to the humble human eye all the beauties to be found within a glorious paradise where love alone can tread. Like a curtain opening on a fantastic play with a story you wish were real but can’t believe it could be.”

She threw her head back and laughed, a high-ringing sound like a wind chime. I just watched in admiration. You should have seen how she glowed.

If I ever commit the sin of saying that she could stoop to something as crude as a “smile,” it is only for the sake of brevity, because the English language doesn’t have a better suited word. Even glowed doesn’t qute capture it. I can’t use an entire paragraph to describe it every time she glows, mainly because the majority of this barbaric “modern civilization” is tragically revolted by the smallest degree of beautiful language. If you are one of these philistines, then please, bear with me a little longer.

When she stopped laughing and glowed at me I said, “You find it funny?”
“I just wish I was half as beautiful as your words,” she replied.

“But you’re not,” I agreed, “because you’re ten times as beautiful.”

She just shook her head, glowing.

“And I am blessed to be a witness to it, and I am honored that my grandmother thinks I bear a resemblance to you. You know, the more I think about it, the more I understand why she would think so.”

“And why is that?”

“Simple logic. You stand in the sun, your face gets rosy, right? It’s a natural reaction; a reflection of the sun’s energy. Take the moon. The moon has no light of its own; we would never even see it by itself, but thanks to the sun, its beautiful. Well, so—”

“So you’re the moon,” she interrupted, “reflecting the sun’s light.”

I frowned. “I was going to say that. But I’m glad you agree. Yes, any similarity my smile has to yours is just the reflection of my joy in being with you.”
She rolled her eyes. “But I don’t agree.”

“You don’t enjoy being with me?” I sobbed.

“Of course not. Why should I?” She trilled. “I’m kidding. I meant that I don’t agree with what you were saying about just being a reflection of the sun’s light. There are more important things than being pretty.”

I held up an index finger. “That’s very true! And I’m glad you brought it up. Don’t you see? Of course you’re more than just a pretty face. You never smile. I never said you had a pretty smile. Take what our society typifies as a ‘beautiful’ woman. That archetype emphasizes all the wrong things. So-called beautiful women may have slim bodies and well-shaped noses and thin eyebrows and red lips, but you have even more, because you have true beauty, inner beauty. You’re a charming, kind, sweet woman, and that’s three of the many, many things that make you beautiful on the inside. That inner beauty always shows on the outside. It’s something you don’t always see in a societally ‘beautiful’ woman. You’re both societally beautiful and truly beautiful; that’s why you glow. That glow is your inner beauty shining, and that is something that can be seen.”

Her eyes gleamed suddenly with triumph. “Exactly!”

“Exactly what?”

“Exactly that,” she repeated. “That makes you the most beautiful man I have ever met. That’s what you don’t see. Because you can’t see yourself. So let me tell you. All the sweet, beautiful things you’ve been saying are reflections of your own beauty.”


“Yes, beauty! Don’t be sexist, men can be beautiful.” She trilled again, and continued, “Anyway, my beauty, all this beauty you’ve been talking about, is just a reflection of your beauty. And the beauty I see in you is a reflection of my beauty.”

“So,” I said slowly, “are you saying humans are inherently egocentric?”

“Not at all! Exactly the opposite. It’s giving something to someone else. You’re giving them a part of yourself. That’s why your grandmother says we have the same smile. Not just because our smiles look the same, because she saw something else—the something we gave each other. She saw the same something reflected in both of us.” Glowing brighter than ever, she leaned toward me. “And do you see what that something is?”

I felt the birth of a grin on my lips. “I’m beginning to. You’re something special, I’ll tell you that.”

“And you’re very sweet”—she kissed me—”even if you’re only as cute as a bug, poor little boy!”

“Hey, you’re the one my grandmother thinks looks like a bug, not me.”

“True—but if your beauty is a reflection of mine—”

“Right, right.”

She trilled. I thrilled. She scintillated. I cachinnated.

The End


Categories: Imagining a Better World, Philosophia Venereum, Short Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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