Borrowing from Vicki


Today, I read a blogpost written by the mighty Vicki Hinze, and I want to steal borrow on a few of her comments. Oh, and this quote: 

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -Edith Wharton

Basically, Vicki talks about how we apply this principle in both life and writing.  And she does it so much better than I can, so go read her post!  One thing she does day is:

There are a lot of ways to look at that quote. And I expect one sees in it what they’re looking for at the time. Today, my interpretation of it is that we’re all both candles and mirrors at different points in time on different issues and in different situations.

What I want to say here is that I agree with her totally. Especially as it applies to our writing. I recently, (okay, maybe not so recently…again, I really need to let stuff go) experienced a disappointment in someone I had looked up to as a mentor for a long time.   I was a fan of this person for a long time before I ever started writing.  When I did start writing, she eventually took me under her wing and gave me a lot of opportunities that were good for me. I did learn a lot from her, a lot of it was very good.  But soon, the stars fell from my eyes and eventually, she and I went our separate ways.  You see, one of the hard lessons I learned from her is that she is a candle that was only happy when the mirrors around her reflected hero-worship. For various reasons, I had lost the impulse to reflect that back to her, and I fell from favor very quickly.  When it came to the my way or the highway attitude, I became a hitchhiker.  Since then, I have been somewhat removed from the local writing community.  Not entirely, because the group I’m in now, my Divas,  accept me as I am, and support me too, despite this abyss I’ve been swimming in the past few years (not all of it was the aforementioned mentor’s fault, btw.)  Thanks to their light, I am wading my way through to the top of my writing, or non-writing rather, wasteland.  And thanks to the light of my family, I’m floating to the top with the rest of it, too.  I can almost grasp it.

When you’re the candle, you choose what light you cast. Knowing others reflect it, you should aspire to have it be the best you have to give.

Thus, I must reflect upon myself and ask what kind of light I’ve been.  I don’t particularly like what I see.  I can do better, shine brighter.  Perhaps, when I do, I can attract more lightness and things will continue to look up.  Not to mention I might be more pleasant to be around.

Which makes the point of this that every author is a candle. And all the fiction the author produces is a mirror that reflects the light from her candle. That is a compass for authors to consider the impact of what they write. To consider the light they emit that others will mirror and reflect.

I’m going to try to remember this in my writing, too.

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3 Comments on “Borrowing from Vicki”

  1. Selma says:

    I’m sorry you had that experience with your mentor. It’s always disappointing when people we look up to are often more flawed than we are.

    I really enjoyed this post. It is a very positive and somewhat spiritual way of looking at writing. I will try to incorporate this principle into my own writing. Thank you.

  2. desperatewriter says:

    Thanks, Selma. 🙂 Vicki is a charm. 🙂

  3. Ms. Karen says:

    I agree with Selma, 100%. Great post, well written, with lots to ponder.

    Being compared to an author you like is such a rush! It happened to me once, and while I appreciated the thought, it made me uncomfortable. Don’t ask why, it just did.

    Being a candle is hard, I like reflecting and pushing others forward, but then I’ve always prefered working backstage.


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