It’s OK to Ask for Help

It’s OK to Ask for Help

Fellow writers,

I was prepared to write about asking for help when you need it, and I’m still going to do that, but first I need to acknowledge that the magnificent African-American novelist Toni Morrison died on Monday. Morrison’s race is relevant because of her subject matter and her perspective, her searing examination of the legacy of black chattel slavery in the United States. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her spectacular novel Beloved, and later won the Nobel Prize for Literature. If you don’t know her work, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A friend posted this quote today from Morrison’s novel Sula, and it’s a good prelude to what I’d planned to say:

In a way, her strangeness, her naivete, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings; had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like any artist with no art form, she became dangerous.

So the question becomes, How do we learn our chosen art form? We don’t have to do this alone. We writers can read and study the work of writers who came before us; we can build on that foundation.

We can attend readings by fiction writers and memoirists and poets. We can learn something from others by osmosis – by just surrounding ourselves with the energy and words of other writers.

We can find writers groups with other committed writers who will give honest, helpful feedback about our work–what is apparent, what is lacking, what direction we might consider taking as we continue exploring, drafting, shaping.

We can find a workshop with a facilitator who understands the writing process, who respects our work, who helps us to find our voice, and who has our back as we figure out where the heck a piece of writing is taking us.

Despite the crazy lie that Western culture tries to brainwash us with, writers don’t have to live alone in misery, writing with blood from an open vein.

It’s OK to have fun. It’s OK to share. It’s OK to ask for help.



Reprint of “Something to Consider,” August 7, 2019