I confess, I’m big on service. And I don’t mean the service I receive (though I could blog on that today too, because IMO customer service is nearly a lost art). I mean the service I can give to others. Not just can give, that I should give. That I OWE.
You can describe this in many ways – maybe you believe in Karma, for instance, and the idea that what you put out there is what will come back to you. The “reap what you sow” idea. Or maybe you call it paying it forward. Maybe you channel a little JFK – my dad had a plaque on his wall with the famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Any way you look at it, it’s about it being better to give than to receive.
I feel very strongly that a good part of what’s wrong with today’s society is that it’s based on Me, Me, and…oh yeah. Me. We all like to be the center of our own universes. And I’m as guilty as anyone about focusing on myself at times. *I* need quiet time. *I* need time to recharge with a glass of wine and a movie. *My* feelings got hurt and that’s not okay. I mean we all do that. But I think a lot of the time problems start happening when we’re only in it for us. Especially in this business, as writers.
I think more people should ask: How can I be of service?
I feel blessed to be a part of this industry. I am lucky to be published and fortunate to have such wonderful readers who buy my books and occasionally take the time to send me a note. I answer all my reader mail, because someone took the time to let me know they enjoyed my book (or not).
I received so much help before I sold my first book. Published authors took time from their schedules to help me along, so I feel very strongly about helping others coming up through the ranks. Special friends like Trish Wylie and Liz Fielding and then Jessica Hart and Kate Walker and a zillion others (after I sold) shared information on loops that helped me navigate my way through that crazy year following selling a first book. Now it’s up to me to pass that info on to newbies.
I believe if you receive something you should give something in return. I get a lot of support from my RWA chapter, so I try to give back as much as possible. I currently serve on the board and try to support all our members as best I can with the resources I have. Sometimes that’s as simple as knowing a contact and passing on information, or buying a new release when it comes out. For a few years I ran a pitch contest where I mentored the winner for a year. This year I’ve adjusted that to posting a series on writing every week on my blog.
So what do I get for the bargain price of giving a little help now and again?
- I get to write books for a living, work in my yoga pants, never have to commute in bad weather, and live in a world of happy endings.
- I get to belong in a community of wonderful writers and industry professionals who are as passionate about writing Romance as I am. And we are an awesome bunch of people, y’all. Just hang out in the lobby of any RWA National conference to see how full of awesome we are.
- I have amazing friends who GET IT. This is a lonely business. You don’t feel so crazy when you’re surrounded by like-minded people who understand why you’re crying because a fictional character had her heart broken.
- I get to meet new and interesting people all in the name of research – and I learn a lot.
- I get to experience – again and again – the thrill of that first sale when someone new gets The Call. It reminds me of how mind-blowing it was for me. And it keeps me from being jaded, which sometimes happens when you’ve been in the business for a while. There is nothing like sharing in the magic of THE CALL .
- Each time I reach out, I’m rewarded at least two-fold.
In fact, I think I get back wayyyy more than I put out there.
The honest truth is I have deadlines and a husband, kids and pets and probably not much more time than anyone else. And there are definitely times I feel guilty for not doing more. The bottom line is that I truly believe that you get back what you give. And I don’t give nearly enough. But I try. And I’m having an awful lot of fun doing it.
A busy wife and mother of three (2 daughters and the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist.
An avid reader since childhood, Donna always made up her own stories. She completed her Arts Degree in English Literature in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she penned her first full-length novel, and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript.
Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly 12 years in Alberta where her Harlequin career began, writing about cowboys and the west. Donna’s debut Romance, Hired by the Cowboy, was awarded the Booksellers Best Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Romance.
Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website at www.donnaalward.com, visit her Facebook page, Twitter: @DonnaAlward,
or through her publisher.
And check out REMEMBER ME, COWBOY, a free short story only on eHarlequin.com!
Be sure to leave a comment for Donna today for a chance to win her May release from Harlequin Romance, Honeymoon with the Rancher. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.