Give What Is Received

In a way, all human interaction is a matter of giving and receiving. It is not unusual for people to focus often on the receiving part. As writers, we might think, “I would like to receive a large advance,” or, “I would like to receive a lot of praise,” or even, “I would like to receive a standing ovation after my readings.” Trouble is, someone else must give all of these things we might like to receive. It is my personal experience that everything we give we also receive in time. This is a tidy and useful formula because one doesn’t have to think on it too long to understand that the only thing over which we have any actual say-so is what we give. Thus, don’t worry about what you’re receiving, think only about what you’re giving. Or, to put it another way, if you don’t like what you’re receiving, change what you are giving.

Look upon your writing as a gift to the world. This is not hubris. After all, writing is largely a receptive experience to begin with. Whether you outline a little or a lot, writers are always listening to that current of their story, attuning themselves to receive the feeling, the vibration, that whatever you want to call it, the unnamable something that is the compelling force behind every story. You listen and translate, and when you say, “Done!” out it goes to the world, where what you received can be received again.

And who hasn’t had to answer, “Where do your ideas come from?” And isn’t the answer really, “From everywhere; from everyone”? Do not the stories come from the nightly news, from your nephew, from the cashier, from the stranger at a bus stop, from the memory of your dead grandmother? In this way, was not the story you are sharing with the rest of the world actually given to you by the world? And so is not the world then receiving, in your story, just what it had given you?

Let your stories always come from the most generous place in your heart. Only then can you give the most of what you have received. Do not hold anything back for yourself. Instead, keep your heart open to all that is coming to it, all that is given you over and over and over.

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