I got a little bit of encouragement with my writing stuff a few days ago. I’ll tell you about it in a week or two. It’ll be good fun, I think.
This got me thinking about encouragement and what it means to me. The temptation to generalise is huge. It would be very easy to start going on about how, “we all need this” and “we all want that,” but I don’t really know what we all want or need, do I? I only know about me.
I need it though, I know that. A little encouragement from time to time, I need it.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps that’s incorrect. Perhaps I don’t ‘need’ it, per se, it just helps me.
I think that might be a key difference between me, the eejit who continues to write despite everything, and those who finally throw their arms up and stop. I think someone like me, who keeps grinding away at it, is like a camel or a cactus. Except, instead of water, we store up tiny droplets of encouragement in our humps and in our prickles. We can travel a long way on very very little.
That’s good, I suppose but, still, even the camel or the cactus will stumble or wither eventually, if the drought is long enough or the distance between oases too great.
So, yeah, I got this little droplet of encouragement out of the blue and now I’m all buzzy and rejuvenated again. I can write, I really can write, and people sometimes like what I do. I will grab my board and surf this wave as far as I can. Who knows? I might even make it to the shore this time.
It’s a shame that the encouragement effect diminishes over time, for me at least. I got some encouragement earlier in the year when my short play did well in the Claremorris fringe. I surfed that pretty well. But it got used up, like petrol in a car, until I was chugging on empty again, pig-headedly refusing to quit.
One thing to learn from this is to give encouragement where you can. It is a lifeblood, a drop of liquid that can make your brown cactus flower or your camel make it over the next dune. Give encouragement.
But here’s the rub. We, the people who benefit from your encouragement, are connoisseurs of the stuff. We can smell a bad glass of it a mile off. Gratuitous encouragement, self-endearing encouragement, encouragement which seeks reciprocation, pity-encouragement. These things, however well meant, are simply poisonous to us. They are a hemlock which can land us in our beds for weeks, battered and unable to function.
Encouragement is a bit like love. You can’t make either up, however much you would like to. You can’t just pull it out of thin air. The moments when it can be given are quite rare and momentary. Again, like the surf waves, you have to catch those moments and use them.
That’s it. Use your encouragement when you get it, keep plodding on when you don’t, and don’t ever give it if you haven’t got it to give.
Live long and prosper.