Writing that moves readers to action

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A quote in a journal created as a Holiday gift by a friend caught my eye and caused me to pause and reflect this morning.  According to Neil Gaiman:

“Most writers have this vague hope that elves will come in the night and finish their stories.”

As a seasoned, professional writer the contents of this quote troubled me.  I wondered…maybe Mr. Gaiman knew something I didn’t know?  So, I went in search of details about “elves” and their actions, and found this description:

“One of a class of preternatural beings, especially from mountainous regions, with magical powers, given to capricious and often mischievous interference in human affairs, and usually imagined to be a diminutive being in human form; sprite; fairy.”

Based on my proximity to a “mountainous area,” the chance of a nightly visitor seemed imminent.  Personally, I did not want one of these elves to mistake me for (or lump me in with) “most” writers.  Not that I desire a distance (or want to appear to be a snob), but my art and process of writing are innate and have been with me since childhood.  Writing (and finishing what one writes) for me is a demanding undertaking; the task beckons one to dig deep – get one’s soul dirty – and fully commit to the process.  Over the years, I’ve honed my art through academic training, corporate and nonprofit experience, and practical diligence; and remain passionate about my work.  If an elf were to appear in the middle of the night and finish any of my stories, I would clearly consider the act “mischievous interference in human affairs.”

So, for several nights I maintained a vigilant watch to ensure my writing was not disturbed or tampered with in any way.  After a few nights without a single elf sighting, my wake-filled nights brought weariness to my days.  As I slouched in a semi-awake state, I began to entertain the thought of diverting the elf’s attention away from my writing and seducing (or negotiating with) them to pitch in on other projects or chores that needed some magical powers – like the laundry, housecleaning, oil changes, etc.  .

Then it came to me…might all lives be better served when individuals immerse themselves in challenging tasks that truly align with their soul’s purpose (i.e. leading, managing, coaching, writing, and so on)?  Could the initial definition of ELF found online be too literal…too restrictive?   Maybe a more expanded definition of ELF was needed?

While “most” writers may have a “vague hope that elves will come in the night and finish their stories” (hmmm…I still wonder who those writers might be), elves awaiting an opportunity to perform their life’s purpose and do what they love to do – assist others in completing a variety of tasks and projects – are all around us.  They are everywhere…all the time.  All we need do is open our minds, release our holds and controls, and redefine the amazing acts performed by elves each and everyday…and be grateful for their fairy-like presence and participation in our lives.  It might also be helpful to take a moment to stop and consider who we – ourselves – might be an elf to.  Pondering these quotes helped me:

“Nothing is more vital to the renewal of an organization or society than a system by which people are nurtured and moved into positions where they can truly make a contribution.”  Self-Renewal by John W. Gardner

“You should try to establish whether the work you do and your workplace is actually an expression of your identity, dignity and giftedness.”  Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

“Passion is the willingness to suffer for what is right For YOU!” Through the Labyrinth by Peter Occhiogrosso

“By seeing the beauty in every face we lift others into their wisest self and increase the chances of hearing a synchronistic message.”  Celestine Insights by James Redfield

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die”  by Eleanor Roosevelt

Below are some of the elves who often visit my life.   Maybe you can come up with some of your own?

Coyote Motors – mechanics extrordinaire

Bethany Prosseda = writing and teaching afficionado

Alan Slinkard – all round amazing elf

The next time a writing project (business plan, executive profile, case study, resume, etc.) appears to go beyond your desires or you simply can’t start or bring your piece of work to closure, consider the elf who wrote this piece (www.the-write-resources.com ).  Maybe her work can create the magic (and freedom) needed for you to do what you were created to do.

© 2012 EMCarlock

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