Warning: This is the bloodiest blog post I’ve ever written.
I’m not kidding. Last Friday, I lay prone as blood flowed from my arm, surrounded by other poor souls in the same situation. Health care professionals walked by us but did nothing to stop the bleeding until we’d given them what they wanted. And everybody just acted like this was totally normal.
Because, okay, I was at a blood drive, so it was totally normal. And not just normal, but good. Healthy for me (“It’s like an oil change!” they always say) and potentially life saving for somebody else. Potentially life saving for me someday, if I were to need that priceless gift myself.
My last few donations have been on my college campus, where they recognize the motivating power of free t-shirts. Here’s my favorite:
Writing can be a tremendously fulfilling endeavor. The writing life is sustaining and nourishing. But there’s a danger in becoming so focused on our own stories and careers and paths that we forget how rewarding and essential it is to give something back.
You can offer a listening ear for a friend with plot problems. Donate a critique to a charity auction or just to an aspiring author who’s not sure what to do next. You can visit a classroom or write reviews for books you’ve loved. There are as many ways to give back to the writing world as there are words in a novel. Okay, maybe more.
Of course, blood donors don’t give it all away, and neither should you. But if something feels stale or static about your writing life, maybe it’s time to give something of yourself, without any thought as to how it might benefit your own writing or career.
There are writers and readers and kids and teachers out there right now who need what you have to offer. And when you offer it, you will immediately feel a spark of joy that will, in turn, fuel your writing. You will have given yourself the chance at a metaphorical oil change, the chance to fill your soul and your screen with something new and fresh that you might not have had room for otherwise.
A note: There is a significant need for blood and platelet donors right now. Please consider donating your actual blood–visit redcrossblood.org for more information.