Lately I’ve been zeroing in on the power of investing in relationships.
Investing in people is something I feel called to do, as a writer, as a Christian, and simply as a person. I count myself lucky that my life as a full time writer and mom allow me so many opportunities to connect with people – both people I know well and people I don’t.
As humans, we are relational beings. Communication is key to understanding ourselves and understanding others. You’ve heard me say it before, that at its very base, writing is about communication. But another way of looking at communication? It’s simply an act of reaching out.
When I started writing my book, Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood, this is what I knew: 1) I wanted to write for a living; 2) I had a few stories about my childhood that I had to get out on paper; and 3) Maybe someone would find the stories interesting.
But what was I doing? I had no idea, really. I didn’t exactly set out to write a book. I did want to compile the stories in my head into some sort of order – and I wanted the stories to be artfully written – but why? Back then, I couldn’t have told you.
But now (albeit a little late), I am starting to get it. Now, I realize that both the acts of writing and publishing Tough Love had a far broader purpose. My book is a way to connect with people (readers, writers, only children, Wyomingites, pick your label) who may have experienced even a sliver of what I did or wanted to understand something entirely new. In other words, by writing my story I set out to communicate and develop trusting relationships with those who would care about it.
“Sharing goes to the core of what you do, and why it’s worth doing in the first place,” a fellow writer and friend of mine once observed.
“You want to find the people whose lives will be impacted by your work, your art,” writes social media consultant Dan Blank. And, he points out, it takes time to develop meaningful relationships and trust with others.
What is your dream, really? I suppose it’s true that some writers simply aim for getting their name in print. But Blank nails the bigger dream of most artists: “not just having a book with their name on it, but a true connection to readers whose lives you have shaped.”
That’s it, right there. And whether I am developing a true connection via the written word or the spoken word – a phone call, a “How are you?” at the local library – I know that as a person, I am living out my true calling: to genuinely connect with others.
Caring about other people will always matter, no matter what you do with your life.