Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Going Postal—Encouragement on the Writing Journey

It was February 2009 and pouring down rain. I’d spent the past three weeks feverishly working to revise a manuscript at an agent’s request. The agent wanted a hard copy of the whole revised book—and it was a hefty plus-one-hundred K.

I hurried through the downpour with my young children to a shipping store. I waited in line, then helped the employee wrap the manuscript, trying to keep all the pages in order, even though we had to split it in half to fit it in the box. And then I found out they wouldn’t send it without requiring a signature. Literary agencies do not like to have to sign for packages.

Frustrated, I turned to the dreaded post office, where I’d had lots of bad experiences with manuscripts, including raised eyebrows, pitying looks, and being told I had to send an entire manuscript at the letter rate.

This time, someone new was at the counter. Her smile was warm and genuine, her words quietly serious as she studied the bundle of papers and the address. “This is your book?”

I nodded.

“This is very important, isn’t it?”


I must’ve looked as anxious and deflated as I felt. The postal worker printed out a “Media mail” sticker, though others had told me I couldn’t use that rate for unbound paper. It wasn’t a book yet, they felt compelled to remind me.

This lady looked me right in the eye. “You must be very smart and talented.” She smiled at my kids. “You’re lucky to have such a Mom. She’s going to be very successful.”

Lady, if only you knew what the odds are against that, I started to think. But she was so sincere, and the kids nodded in agreement. The cynic in me melted, and I let her kind words do as they were intended—encourage, uplift.

Has a stranger ever encouraged you in your writing journey? How did you react?


  1. I would have probably bust out in tears. :D

  2. Yay for kind people who just get it! I can't think of a specific instance, but I know I'd have quit a hundred times over if not for the little encouragements I get from writing friends and close family.

  3. I love hearing stories like this one. Amidst all the bad and terrible stories you hear, it's refreshing to know there's still good, sincere, kind-hearted people in the world!

  4. There are still a lot of nice people out there who take the time to help. Glad you found her.

    Yeah, I did a project in college when I was getting my Child Psychology degree. I had to do a 3 month study of a child and do a daily journal. Well, you know being a writer, my journal was not a cut and dried stack of words. I really tried to paint the child and his actions in words. I was nervous because I had seen a few others work and thought mine might not sound as professional and it represented my grade and degree. I had all the tech stuff in it but I presented it differently. Plus, I had three children's stories touching on and addressing certain issues.

    Long story short, I had to have a copy of it and have it bound in a notebook for my professor. I had taken it to a print shop to get the copies and have it bound. When I came back to pick it up, a couple of the employees came up and said, that was amazing! You should write stories. The owner laughed and said it was one of the longest jobs they had done because everyone had to read it.

    To say I was shocked would be an understatement.


    1. What a great story, Sia! And what a daunting project!

      Stina, I almost did burst into tears!

      Katrina and Britney, yes, kind people are out there, sometimes right when we need them.

  5. Awwww, this is so incredibly sweet! I totally would have cried too, haha.

    I'm always surprised by how sweet and supportive people are, whether they're coworkers, acquaintences, or people I've never even met. When I went to visit my mom at work a few months ago, her colleagues had heard all about the book (Mom's a bragger, LOL) and were gushing about how much they wanted to read it. It put a huge smile on my face!

  6. I love these kind of examples--I mean, how much more time and effort did it cost that postal worker to say something nice, rather than smirking? And yet it made your day!

  7. You must be putting goodness out into the world, to get such goodness back. What a lovely story.

  8. Becky, yay for moms!

    Angelica, yes!

    Deborah, I don't think I was emanating a whole lot of goodness just then. More like angst! Thankfully we sometimes get what we need instead of what we deserve. :)

  9. Love that! Those kind of unexpected encouragements are so important in light of the rate of rejection writers face.


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