Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jury duty: a lesson learned

Those two words pretty much say it all, don't they? Yesterday I was called to downtown Chicago for jury duty. I have to admit, I'm not a big city kind of person. I rarely go there unless it is with my husband. The idea of going it alone would have made me a little nervous except for one thing. I have a good friend who works downtown every day.

This friend took me under her wing. I met her at the train and rode down with her. Once there, she helped me find the station to get my return ticket, pointed me down the street in the right direction, and navigated me around some construction. Coming back she also helped me find my way to the right Metra entrance and get on the right train. Thanks to her, it was a fun and stress-free experience.

This week I've been reading Some Writers Deserve to Starve! by Elaura Niles. Most of the book didn't come as a surprise to me since I've been in the publishing industry a while and writing for some years. What did surprise me was a chapter which Kristi Holl also commented on in her blog this week.

The title was, "Truth #12: Writers Rarely Help Other Writers."

I found this one a real shock. The author's idea was that there is only so much room in publishing near the top of the ladder. When writers become successful, they stop helping others attain their level. They don't want the competition which will make their own writing life all the harder. These writers have quit being grateful for the help they received from others. Since the writers at the bottom of the ladder trying to make it up are really only in a position to take, the ones at the top get tired of only giving with no getting back. They tend to become, well, cynical and hardhearted. Ms. Niles wasn't condoning it, but she was just saying this is an issue in the real writing world when writers enter the upper echelons of their profession.

My jury duty adventure in downtown made me think of this. My friend went out of her way to help me yesterday. She didn't have to. I know it inconvenienced her, at least in terms of time. Her husband even picked me up after I walked from the station to the library and gave me a ride home when I was able to leave early. True, me being downtown didn't compete with my friend for her job, but she's just the kind of person who would have helped me even if it had.

In view of this, I hope that when those of us who are still on the ladder make it to the top as writers, we remember where we came from. Stay grateful. Help others. Don't let it threaten you. Personally, I'd prefer giving up writing to becoming hardhearted and only out for number one. I believe that if you always write the best you can and look out for those around you, you'll never have anything to regret.


1 comment:

  1. I believe in sowing good seeds, whenever possible. And, strangely enough, I always find a blessing in helping someone else - somehow or some way. For instance, in that train ride, a comment by Beth induced me to make a fundamental change in direction for my YA novel that I really like. Thanks, Beth!