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Aug 15

Mischa Eliot

Adventures in Writing: Being a Good Influence

This post is a little… okay, a lot emotional. This is post two in my “Being a Good Author Friend” series. Stay Tuned, there’s always more. I recommend tissues if you watch This is Water. I highly recommend watching This is Water.


Everyone is influenced by someone or something happening around them. While I attribute a lot of my good author influences to my fellow authors, I also attribute them to watching someone and seeing how they work. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m a fan of Christian Kane. If you check his Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see something intriguing. He not only promotes himself, he also promotes his fellow singers, songwriters, actors, and the people who work with him in those fields.

So, I took a page out of his book. I wanted to share people who shared my values in life. Good food, good drinks, good times, and most of all, good stories. I wanted to be a good influence for others and I hoped that in being good to them, they would do the same. It appears to be working (insert evil laughter here). If there is one thing anyone should ever strive for in life – it’s to be good. Nothing more, nothing less. Be good. Make good choices.

No, it isn’t an easy thing to make good choices. But it is easy to share, be friendly, smile when you don’t mean it, and be cordial. A lot of people in the world have lost this ability to talk to each other in a respectful manner. Instead, we snipe and snark and get snippy. The thing about being an author – a lot of our conversations are in text. Cold, boring, emotionless text.

We can pretty it up with emojis, LOLs, or GIFs, but it’s still text. There’s no voice other than the one in your head reading it, and if you’re feeling hurt or battered, then most of the things you read are going to leave you feeling beaten down and hitting rock bottom. It happens to all of us so don’t feel alone or weird or whatever when this happens to you.

My best recommendation before you reply is to walk away. If you don’t have a day job to drag you away from it, then go for a walk in the woods or around the block. Play with the kids if you’ve got them at home, or chase the cat around with the vacuum cleaner. Anything that doesn’t involve a screen. Anything that will give you time to focus on everything else. Rebalance. Listen to loud music, dance badly. Whatever you need to do to get back to good.

I’m going to share a shortened video made based on This is Water by David Foster Wallace. I’m sure most, if not all, of you have seen or heard This is Water, but perhaps it’s time for a reminder. Not everyone’s day is like yours. The hardest thing in life is to be kind and we are running short on kindness more and more each day. Don’t be the one that ruins someone’s day because you couldn’t take a moment to breathe, to count, to walk away. It’s so easy for someone to say the wrong thing – it doesn’t matter if they purposefully were mean or not – it’s how you react, how you handle it that makes the difference.

Some people have short fuses and explode immediately, while others are a sleeping volcano, where the magma is rising and rising and rising until one day – ka-boom – there’s just one thing too many and their top blows. When that happens, the person they burn is the nearest or latest in a long line of offenses, upsets, emotionally draining incidents. It happens. We all have this happen. The best way is to take some time alone after it happens and try to come back and apologize. Agree to disagree. If you can come back together after some time, that’s great. If not, then that’s okay, too. We are all allowed our own personal preferences.

Ask anyone that follows me. Anytime they thank me for something publicly or privately, my usual reply is “I do my best.” Because that’s the truth. We all need to try to do our best.

This is Water-David Foster Wallace from alexander correll on Vimeo.

In short: Don’t be a dick.

2 comments

  1. Dr. J.

    Love it. Be aware. My Dad’s advice for me growing up was, “Choose your company.” The choose part is deliberative and what we have control over. You are so awesome.

    1. Mischa Eliot
      Mischa Eliot

      It took me years to learn that I could choose the people I wanted to be around and that people who like/love you don’t use you and ignore your needs.

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