Last week, I began a series of merit badges for writers. I’ve expanded this week to include a merit badge for readers as well.
First Aid For Writers
This is not a badge for ordinary events, like printer jams or sightly missed deadlines. We should award ourselves this badge when we’ve survived those worst days of days. We’ve lost an entire manuscript and the last time we can remember making a backup was three months ago. Our publisher declared bankruptcy and didn’t tell us. We found out about it on Facebook. The agent we love sent an e-mail saying she’s re-evaluated her life and is changing careers. Real life has dealt us such a blow that we’re not sure we’ll ever be able to write again.
Here’s how we can render first aid to ourselves
- Sit down.
- Say, “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.” ~Sylvia Boorstein, Zen teacher, author, and psychotherapist
- Breathe slowly and steadily.
- We are all part of a strong writers’ community. Trust other writers. We will be there to help.
Readers deserve merit badges as well as writers. Any reader can award herself this badge when she has completed at least 4 of these requirements.
- Someone has said to her at least once, “Turn off that light and go to sleep. Don’t make me come in there.”
- She finished a book sitting in the bathroom because she didn’t want the light to bother a significant other.
- She owns more than one book light. [I think our household’s current count is 7, but only 3 have working batteries.]
- She left clothes home in order to take more books on vacation.
- Her TBR (to-be-read) pile doubles as a piece of furniture.
- She’s left a bookstore or library thinking her collection is more extensive, and better organized.
- The first thing she does when moving to a new town is to find the library. Then she worries about non-essentials like schools, grocery stores, gas stations, and fire, police, and ambulance.
- The first gift she buys for a newborn is a book.
- When the clerk asks for her debit card, she automatically hand them her library card because it’s the most accessible one in her wallet.
Books are like lobster shells. We surround ourselves with them, then we grow out of them and leave them behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development. ~Dorothy L. Sayers, mystery writer