Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Power of Words

When I first started writing, I had goals: start a blog, be published, build a platform. Sure as writers, we are focused on our latest or next project—the book we want to complete, the idea that is tumbling in our heads finding its polish, or the article we want to query.  But it’s not all about us, all the time. Many writers I know are also very aware of giving back. They believe there is a way to use their words--their gift--to help others.

A few writers I know have donated short stories or articles to anthologies where the proceeds go towards a cause. One such example, Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew, is a collection of short stories, poems, and essays all about facing life’s struggles. The proceeds were donated to the college fund of a fellow writer whose son struggled with the devastating effects of cerebral palsy. Unfortunately although the young man lost his battle, the sales will continue to help others.  

Another example is the anthology, Beyond the Binding: Composers for Relief Companion Collection, a collection of stories written by 29 writers across the globe. This time the money generated is all donated to the ongoing relief efforts in the Philippines.

I am fortunate to know many of the writers in both collections. No one had to twist their arms to donate their time, talents, and words. They gave because they knew their ability and love of writing were gifts to be shared, not just horded for their own gain.

Over the past several weeks, I have been donating my time towards a local literary journal. It will never see a web page in Amazon or raise money towards a cause. It’s just a small magazine, put together by local artists in my small, mountain town. This year, the journal partnered with our local headwaters grassroots organization to promote the value of water conservation. I contributed a short essay, but more important to me, I had the honor of helping with the editing tasks.

It was such a fantastic experience. Instead of just reading dry reports on the water levels of our valley or attending a lecture on the issues of declining rainfall and increasing population and irrigation needs, readers will get to experience and feel the importance and beauty of the rivers, lakes, and irrigation needs of our valley and beyond. Gorgeous, lush photographs captured rafters, kayaks, fly fishing, icy rivers snaking through snow, a sunset glancing off the mountains and mirrored in a lake. Poems described the soul-renewing value of the river, the joy of catch and release, the music and magic of rushing water. Essays spoke of farmers, boaters, dogs splashing in water, fly fishing metaphors, and silently paddling through still waters.  

Art does more than inform: it engages emotions, thoughts, and imagination. This is why it is such a vital ingredient to change

Not all the writing was professional, but it didn’t matter.  We did our best to include at least one selection from everyone who contributed. The end product will be a loving collection by local talent. Not only did I get first glance at submissions, but the experience taught me a lot about pulling a layout like this together and allowed me to hone my sorely lacking editing skills (yes, I flipped through my Strunk and White more than once).

There’s an old Sunday School song about shining our light. One of the verses says:
Hide it under a bushel, no!
I’m going to let it shine!

So my writing friends, in the midst of making sure you’re getting down your 3000 words for the day, editing for the umpteenth time those stubborn chapters, or crafting a carefully worded query, I challenge you to think about how writers have the power and influence to change thoughts, events, and to truly make a difference.

Let your talent shine.



Note: This post will also be published on She Writes

56 comments:

  1. Don't hide the Talents - use and multiply them!
    Cool you got to contribute to that journal. I had a piece in Nick's book, wrote another for Audiomachine's latest, and posted my contribution to Carrie's eBook yesterday. I'm not a great writer, but I'll give what I can with a joyful heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember you were part of that anthology- you are a great example of giving back, Alex.

      Delete
  2. Giving back to others is to open doors where there was once only walls. :) Those are two fine examples (among many) of writers giving back. Thank you for sharing this and great to hear you can share your time with your local lit journal, the writing community is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this: Giving back to others is to open doors where there was once walls. Very good.

      Delete
  3. Hi, Julie,
    It's wonderful to be able to contribute to something that will make a difference. It can't always be about money. Our connection to each other is fed each time we reach out to help each other. The project you've just completed sounds like such a worthwhile and informative one. Only in recent times - through editing some articles for an enviro magazine - have I really understood our impact on the planet and what we can do to stem the havoc we humans wreak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Living in this mountain community there is a real awareness of our connection to the land-- very valuable lessons, indeed.

      Delete
  4. Giving is a wonderful experience. It enriches the soul of the giver more than the receiver, or so I've felt. It was an honor to contribute to both Nick's anthology and Beyond the Binding. I found so many things about myself. I am glad you keep giving and writing. You have a beautiful heart. Let your talent shine and keep shining! Dragon Hug Spam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And your heart shines, as well Dragon Friend. Every time you share a bit of yourself you give to us.

      Delete
  5. What an absolutely wonderful experience! Not only for you but for all who were able to participate. And we do need to let our talent shine. In any way possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great experience-- loved seeing first-hand all the talent in our valley.

      Delete
  6. That's pretty awesome, Julie. :) And I hadn't thought about how we could donate our time and talent in such a manner. Thanks for shining some light on it! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fun way to hone skills, build new experiences and connections, and feel a part of something outside ourselves, for sure.

      Delete
  7. That sounds like a wonderfully fulfilling experience for you! (not the skunk and wag part, though). ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, "skunk and wag" is always very humbling!

      Delete
  8. Wonderful use of your time! I am a total believer in giving back. What good are we if we're not helping when we can?

    ReplyDelete
  9. This sounds like a wonderful project. What a brilliant way to bring important issues to life in a way that prompts people to take action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was fun. Plus, I just felt so honored to read and be a part of so much local talent.

      Delete
  10. Beautiful post. I'm so glad for all the writers who let their talent shine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too-- and wow, writers are a giving group!

      Delete
  11. Great post, Julie, as always, and a fascinating project.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excellent! We're experiencing severe drought problems here, and water conservation is truly important. I can only dream of 3000 words a day :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, 3000 may have been a lofty estimate. ;)

      Delete
  13. Good for you, Julie. What a great project! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks- my honor to be a part of it.

      Delete
  14. Julie,

    As always you provide a clear objective and by leading from the front you always encourage and motivate us. You are honestly a lady in great demand and I am so proud of you.

    One word of caution, don’t be so quick to write a project as one that will never see the light of day. I have it on good authority that Da Vinci never expected that the Mona Lisa would be much to look at either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it's fun that something of mine will go in this little local journal.:)

      Delete
  15. Aloha :)

    Wow... THAT local journal sounds like it was a blast - you got me literary excited just reading how much it meant to you and your fellow contributors :)

    Wishing it much success - and perhaps it's the beginning of another new chapter in the Luek Life - (Future Editor-in-Chief, New York Times Magazine)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aloha, Mark-- it was a lot of fun and wow, such a learning experience for me.

      Delete
  16. What a wonderful project to be part of. I'll admit I've not thought about giving back in that way with my writing. Manual labor, yes - writing, no. You've opened a new area of thought for me. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you've done some great projects through missions, though-- it all means the same. :)

      Delete
  17. Sounds like your talent still went to a good cause. I hope you are proud of the result of your work. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how we can use our love of writing to benefit others. So many here are great examples of this.

      Delete
  18. In Fort Collins the city and Senior Center sponsored an anthology of local writings, art, and photograph -- I think we had four publications before we stopped. Serving on that editorial committee was great. Hopefully, we'll do it again one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was a part of Overcoming Adversity and it was such a gift to see people come together just like in your small town and do something big for so little in monetary reward...inspirational reward sometimes is the best money! Keep on fluffing that beautiful straight hair and one day....makeup party!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Makeup party!Woohoo!

      I think it's wonderful that you took part in that project, Tammy-- that's exactly the kind of thing I think we have the ability to do with our writing.

      Delete
  20. You are such an inspiration, Julie. If we could all be like you! I love your passion and perspective. Your posts always reach me on some level. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Morgan, I know you are a very giving person so the inspiration is always mutual. Thank you.

      Delete
  21. Thank you for the inspiration, Julie. We, or at least I, rarely ponder the key role of writing in shaping history.

    It's felt uplifting to donate my poetry book to soldiers, and to cancer survivors. I'm doubly rewarded when I receive expressions of appreciation.

    The magazine sounds like a wonderful grassroots effort that will be appreciated by people from all walks of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhh yes yes! I love that your poetry book was used to brighten soldiers' lives. That's it exactly!

      Delete
  22. Thank you, Julie, for this reminder that writing and living a writing life can be about shining a light, and sharing with others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tyrean, you are a great example of this!

      Delete
  23. This is lovely! It feels good to be able to contribute to something for fellow writers or for a good cause (or both). I've loved working with Sam on projects like Beyond the Binding. She does a lot of great projects that put writers together with composers, and to be able to put that to a charitable good is even better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Shannon-- you're one of my heroes for working on this project. Great idea.

      Delete
  24. It's admirable that you wrote an essay, and were also involved in the editing of the journal! It's such a worthwhile cause, and I know that many will benefit from it. I'm very grateful to have appeared in Overcoming Adversity, and I'm glad that it's continuing to thrive in Andrew's memory.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie- so cool to be a part of Overcoming Adversity. That's exactly the kind of thing I'm so glad we can do.

      Delete
  25. Hi Julie,

    Your contribution and being involved with that journal. You are a fine example of this encouraging, sharing nature that goes beyond writing. A lot of profound thoughts here, my friend. Like you, I do my best to be part of the spirit that interacts and the results can be so magic for all the worthy causes.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary-- you are a shining example of this every time you write your blogs and share your advocacy for better mental health care. :)

      Delete
  26. This is so true. What a great experience for you in so many different ways--from inspiration to most likely craft too! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a very satisfying investment of my time.

      Delete
  27. Giving back and allowing the gifts God has blessed us with to reach, teach, and inspire others is the whole reason we have gifts in the first place. You always seem to use your gift of writing wisely to help and inspire others. God smiles on you for that, Julie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Demetria-- I need to do this more and hope to. Thanks.

      Delete

Thanks for being a part of the conversation. I love reading your thoughts and feedback.