“Along the western coast of the United States, there are huge groves of red cedars. They grow tall and lovely and appear to be very strong. But their roots are shallow. When one falls, others often follow. Do you know what holds up these beautiful trees? They lean on each other. Their branches touch and support one another. Not one of them can stand alone.”
“Bits & Pieces” magazine*
Many moons ago, when I was young and green as a writer — no, I wasn’t even a writer, I was a struggling grad student — by a fluke, I managed to land a book contract. I was in my early twenties and very excited. But a few months into the project, it became painfully clear that I was in way over my head. One morning, I called my beloved mom, Dorothy, in a panic and started crying. She assessed the situation and uttered two words, “Call Peter.” Peter was my older brother. Feeling that all was lost, I called him and promptly started crying into the phone again. Pete assessed the situation and said, “I’ll be right over.” He zipped across town to my apartment and sat down with me for hours.
In his calm, steady, reassuring way, Pete started asking me questions, helping me organize my ideas, making me see that I was farther along than I thought, and that this was a project I could manage. By the time he left, I felt more hopeful — the tide of disaster had turned. Ultimately, I co-authored my book with an experienced writer and learned a ton from her. The end result was a how-to guide I felt proud of. But getting there wasn’t easy. I’ll never forget how Pete rescued me that day.
That was the first time someone engaged in a book-rescue mission for me, but it wasn’t the last. Over the years, I experienced many moments while writing when I’ve felt overwhelmed and confused and lost. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. And time and again, family and friends have jumped in and helped me get on track: They believed in me. Bless them all forever!
Sometime soon, maybe even today, you too, may be lost in a forest of words. You may feel confused and overwhelmed. When you reach that stage, instead of wandering aimlessly, why not reach out and ask for help? Someone you know and love who loves you is out there, ready and willing to give you a hand. The gifts they bring of hope, perspective, belief in you, and a fresh eye or a better plan may be just what’s needed to jump start your project so you can keep going — and write on.
*Many thanks to my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert for donating a treasure trove of “Bits & Pieces” to me (check out his wonderful Success Hotline: 973.743.4690).