Saturday, January 03, 2009

Who Deserves Our Help?

Once in a while (well maybe a lot :)) a comment is left on one of my blogs that gets me thinking about a subject so much that I believe it needs it's own blog post. In a recent reply, SD offered a comment that inspired me to write this post:

"It comes down to motivations and goals. Why do you write? Is it for self gratification or is it a career. Hopefully there's a balance of both."

This, I think, is where the root of so many problems crop up.

My husband, who comes from a much wealthier home than I grew up in, once became angry with me when I gave five dollars to a beggar on the street. I was surprised. Our conversation went something like this:

"Y'know Jen, he's just going to go buy drugs or get drunk with that money. Probaby the reason he's begging to begin with."

"How do you know that?" I asked. "Just because he's down on his luck doesn't mean he's an addict. Besides, we can afford to give him the five dollars, it won't hurt us."

"You don't know if he isn't an addict either."

"I don't have to know if he's an addict. I need to know that *I'm* a person who, when seeing they can help, doesn't refuse that help. Whatever happens to that money is on his soul--not mine. Refusing to give him aid when I could WOULD be on my soul."

I'm Christian, but I don't like to discuss that much becuase I don't think it matters, truly, what religion someone is. However, I do believe in what the Bible teaches and the story of the angels disguised as beggars being refused aid from all the prospersous and finding it in the impoverished couple has always stuck with me. It's a good lesson to teach and to learn.

See, at one point, I was also homeless (a runaway) and as I was under 16, I couldn't get a job and had to find a way to eat. When I was given money--I used it to buy food. There is no hunger worse than that which you have no idea will be satisfied or not.

About now you're probably wondering where all this is going :)

The point is--the goals and motivations of others don't matter. Our goals and motivations do.

Are we going to be motivated to help only those writers who have a career goal in mind? Or are we going to encourage and support others who are interested in writing and learning the craft, regardless of what they choose to do to make themselves happy?

Will we tell that angel knocking on our door that his goals don't appear lofty enough for us to help him learn the craft?

In the end, we'll be known by our actions. Our focus should be less on what another person wants to do privately with the knowledge we can share, and more on how we wish to impart that knowledge.

Now of course all that would fly out the window if a child molestor tried to hire me to edit his child-porn magazine! I would be on the phone with the authorities so fast it would make everyone's head spin.

But of course, most writers here are merely interested in learning what they can in order to make their own informed decisions about what they would most like to accomplish. Some discover that they really don't love writing enough to do the grueling work of completing and preparing a manuscript for publication. If we help them discover that about themselves, then we have done our part and given what we could. If we help a passionate, driven writer along on their journey, then we have done our part and given what we could.

I believe that life is so much easier when you simply concern yourself with reaching your own goals and allow others the room to do the same. (Barring of course, those who have goals to cause another person harm.)

So do writers intent on self-publishing deserve our help? Do writers intent on writing political works that oppose our own ideas deserve our help? Do writers of a different religion, ethnicity, or culture deserve our help?

Of course they do.

The only time we should refuse our help is if that person is intent on causing harm to others.

At least that's the way I see it :) What do you think?



Anonymous said...

You go girl! I am a firm believer that in order to receive you must give, and we have no way of knowing who needs and who doesn't. It shouldn't matter, giving is giving.

By the way, since you do so much for your readers I thought I would try and bring a smile to your face. Some say awards mean little, but when they come from the heart, hopefully they mean more. I recently accepted a Premio Dardos Award from Jane Kennedy Sutton ( I would like to offer this award to you.

You can find out more on my blog at

Happy new year.

Milli Thornton said...

Jenny, I agree with everything you say. But I'd have to temper that by saying I still get deeply disappointed whenever a writer I'm supporting gives up on him/herself and disappears forever without telling me why--or giving me a chance to help her through that time of doubt.

I've seen it so many times now but it still makes me sad. And I still don't completely understand it.

Sure, there's fear of writing. I know exactly what that feels like! But when someone believes in you, mentors you and loves your writing ... why just blow it all away? Especially in the cases where the writer came so far out of her shell and broke new territory with her creativity.

©Hotbutton Press said...

I think it's time you wrote another good post like that! :)


J.R. Turner said...

Thanks so much for your replies everyone :)

Karen: *Blush* Thanks for the total warm fuzzies! :) I'm honored!

Milli: Never once think it's because you didn't do all you could. Even if you don't hear from the writer again, know that you've been a positive influence in their lives and they will carry that with them always :)

Dani: Thanks tons for the prodding ;) These "deeper" subjects are hard to write about sometimes and I have to wait for the clarity that often comes from the inspiration :) Hopefully I'll get another 'a-ha' moment soon!