Nature verses the local grocery...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trails of Kindness: A Special Glass of Milk

I received an e-mail today, one of those that circle around with embellished tales of Love and kindness that put a tear to the eye and tip our daily spiritual bank accounts a little toward the ‘full’ side.  Today, I followed this e-mail through Snopes.com and found its basis to be even more ‘filling’ than the embellished tale, itself.

The e-mail reads:

Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry.

He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water! . She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk.
He drank it so slowly, and then asked, How much do I owe you?"

You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."

He said ... "Then I thank you from my heart."

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.

He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words ...

"Paid in full with one glass of milk"

(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Snopes.com has a touching and true short biography review on Dr.  Howard Kelly which you can read through the above link.  According to Snopes:

  • Though Dr. Kelly was never destitute, he did give over half of his services, free, to those who were.
  • Thought Dr. Kelly did not save the sick woman from a rare disease, his charity to her and all of the above-mentioned non-paying clients seems rare in today’s world of me, me, and more me.
  • Though, coming from a wealthy family, Dr. Kelly was not selling items door to door to pay for schooling, he was on a Nature walk when he received his pivotal glass of milk.

Sometimes we are annoyed and irritated by the plethora of ‘pass it on’ e-mails that clog our in-boxes through the days.  And I wonder sometimes if many of them are even worth the time it takes to read them. 

Yet, once in awhile, they give us a peek into the special parts of other lives, that indeed become – at least for a few minutes in our hectic worlds…’the wind beneath our wings’.

As always...Nature prevails.







Saturday, November 5, 2011

Critiquing Trails: Torture Tactics

Louis L'Amour once said: "There will come a time when you are finished.  That will be the beginning." As a prolific writer himself, Mr. L'Amour must have had a writer's first critiquing session in mind.

Jan Verhoeff recalls, "Gasping for air, I looked around the table at the faces looking back at me...as I watched them hatchet my work with X’s, lines, scrolls, and deletions they believed I should make." They call this particular type of torture, critiquing.

Sometimes the writers across the table from you, who seem to have taken your new creation right up to death's doorstep, are truly opening that proverbial door to new beginnings, new heights of perfection that will lead you down a quicker path to publication.

Verhoeff's article pokes some fun at her first critiquing experience at a writer's group.  But most new writers face their first critique session with trepidation; and with good reason.  They've poured hours of hard work into their article/story/book, pushed Spell Check 212 times, double-checked their quotation marks, cut some sentences, capitalized a few words and generally put in hours of editing.  It is truly perfect now, they boast with pride. Every editor this side of the Atlantic is writing them a check.

Maybe.

Ms. Verhoeff and a gazillion other new writers survived this torture, so will you.  Be prepared, all good writers have to pass under this troll bridge to reach the other side, the side where acceptance letters outweigh pink rejection slips. In fact, seek out this necessary skill of critiquing, learn the ropes so you can return this life-breathing favor to your peers.
Here are a few tips for wading through the shark-infested waters of your first critique.

1.Distance your emotions; remember that the papers that your so-called writer friends are using for red-pen torture tactics are simply cold, unfeeling words on hard, dry paper.

2.Trust your fellow writers; they have your best interests at heart; they've walked this road before and survived; so will you.

3.Calmly ride out the wave of adrenaline; it only lasts about 20 minutes; you will bless them all when your editor sends you your first check.

4.Respect the life-long learning curve; five heads really are better than one.

5.The secret here is this; the first critique is the worst, each one thereafter is easier.

As you approach your next writer meeting, group or workshop, park your itty-bitty feelers at the door; they'll be patiently waiting for you when you leave. They do have their place, they are paramount to the rest of your writing; love scenes, arguments, plots and all your characters ahead must be driven by good emotions as well as intellect, talent and hard work.

Treasure your critiquing peers. Truth is, the time will come in the not too distant future when you will seek out these chicken killers with any number of valuable bribes. Critiquing is truly the biggest key to your writing success.

Besides...revenge is sweet, they have papers too!

As always, Nature prevails.