March 28, 2013

The Value of Encouragement

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“I greet you at the beginning of a great career.”

Walt Whitman struggled to get someone interested in his poetry. He had become discouraged when he received a note of encouragement from someone that possibly gave him what he needed to continue. Encouragement can mean a great deal to one that so desperately needs to hear it. It can also mean a great deal to one that just needs a nudge to continue on.

Talented writers appear to pick up their pen, or word processor, and just let their brilliance flow. We tend to think they write without any concern for acceptance from their readers, agent or publisher when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think we write to share our thoughts, feelings and desires with the world. In order for us to know this has occurred, we need feedback and encouragement from those we want to share with.

We are not unlike our favorite sports team that we cheer after each successful play, score or win. Encouragement plays a large part in a team’s success. That is why we speak of home team advantage. Home teams enjoy the advantage of a home crowd and the positive encouragement of their fans. It feeds their motivation, their drive and their success.   

I can only imagine the encouragement Walt Whitman felt when he read the following note penned to him. “Dear Sir, I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of GrassI find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” signed Ralph Waldo Emerson. Without this wonderful note from Emerson would Whitman have continued? We may never know. But we do know what did occur.

What is the value of encouragement? It may be found in the value of a Walt Whitman and his poetry. 

As we remember our need for encouragement let’s remember to encourage others in their endeavors. The right words from the right person may indeed bring us the next great poet or writer. I can only imagine hearing from someone I hold in high esteem, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.”   

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