By Alley Hart
I once heard a story of an abused dog being taken to an animal shelter after the police raided the house where it had been. A young woman adopted the dog on the day it was set to be euthanized, and for the first time, the dog was treated kindly by a human. A few months later some men broke into her home and tried to assault her. The dog she had once saved now roared to life, fighting off the two masked gunmen, and taking several bullets to protect her. Both the woman and the dog lived.
This didn’t come about because either of them asked for help, but because help and friendship were offered freely. It was then returned in abundance … and teeth marks. Just as these two were dependent on each other for survival, so are writers dependent on each other to grow in our craft and on our platform. Let me give you an example of how this works.
Around the time I first met Elizabeth, she placed her first section of Not By Sight into a critique room I was part of. In the comments, she said she was struggling to edit as she went. I wanted to help her and offered her the advice to save the editing until after the first draft. I even had the honor of checking on her progress and beta reading for her. She, in turn, beta read for me. Then, before I even got to launch my website, she was already asking if I would be interested in joining her in The Writers’ Room.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think offering that simple advice would lead to this great networking opportunity and the amazing friendship we’ve grown out of it. That is the best kind of networking. The kind where we give and expect nothing in return; we simply want to help others. People are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They know when we are sincere and when we are just trying to get ahead.
I received some great advice when I first started to learn about the publishing business. “Our readers don’t want to read only one author, and authors have a vast knowledge with different talents that will be of great help to others with different talents. We have so much to offer each other, and it will only grow our talents and our reach to lend each other a helping hand along the way.”
Sure, I have reached out to people and been rebuffed. I’ve helped ungrateful people and been called flat out stupid for daring to think a lone dog and nothing else on the cover of a romance novel didn’t accurately translate romance into the mind of the person looking at it. If I had simply stopped because some people didn’t like what I had to say, I would never have been able to help Elizabeth, and the opportunity to share in The Writers Room would have never come about for me.
Even if we are well received, we will not always get something out of it, but that’s not the point. I don’t know about you, but I was both eager and scared when I first started this journey. It was a few kind words from the right people that gave me my confidence to keep going. They had a huge impact on my life, even if they never know it this side of heaven. You never know when the right words at the right time might have that kind of impact on someone else. Keep going, trusting that your help and kindness will reach the right person at the right time.
Is there a need you can help others with? Perhaps there is a person that you could reach out to because you know you have something that will help them on their journey? I would love to hear all about your story of an unexpected impact in the comments below.
Alley Hart is the author of the upcoming series Valor of Aldaz. She is a dyslexic goofball that loves to tell stories and uplift others. Find her on Chistianwriters.com and follow her blog Alleyhart.com.
This post is part of the Writers’ Room, a collaborative writing advice column by Christian writers.