Books... BOOKS

Being Helpful

Being Helpful Cover Image

John R York

November 1, 2022

Helping Others

"Tis the season, when we begin to reflect upon our lives and the merits of helping others - at least it is for me. There's no doubt in my mind of  how fortunate I am to have lived this long and find myself in reasonably good health, a nice roof over my head, a beautiful (and lenient) wife, and the ability to write stories and the good fortune to be able to publish them. For me, life is good, but for many others life is a struggle.

Halloween gets the holidays kicked off, then Thanksgiving, and finally the year wraps up with Christmas. I should also include other celebrations such as Chanukah, Bodhi Day, Yule, and Kwanzaa - all occasions to think about giving consideration to others. Have I mentioned that I joined Rotary after moving to New Port Richey? Well, I did, and I'm grateful that this organization provides me with many opportunities to help others. But we don't really need holidays as an excuse to lend a hand when we can.

The recent hurricane, Ian, created disasters for many people in southwest Florida. The Rotary clubs from all around Florida got together and collected donations of money and material for the victims. Groups of clubs then banded together to package the goods up and load them into trucks to be taken down to the disaster areas. Rotarian volunteers from our area also teamed up with Rotarians from the affected areas to distribute the relief where needed and to physically lend a hand in the cleanup and restoration.

I've signed up to help prepare and distribute Thanksgiving meals for 1000 needy families here in Pasco County. I also took part in putting together a Halloween party for a group of children without parents here in New Port Richey, providing them with much needed toiletries as well as treats and a fun afternoon of activities.

Of course, there's always more that needs to be done. There's a lot of suffering throughout the world, in our own nation, and much more than most people realize in our own backyards. It seems that no amount of philanthropy can eliminate all the misery. People like Gates, Bloomberg, Ackman, and many others pump billions of dollars into good causes, but millions still go hungry, are persecuted, abused, or homeless. It's kind of a bummer, I know. But we can still make small differences - one good deed at a time.

I Always Wanted to Write a Book

Since becoming a published author, people I meet often tell me that they always wanted to write a book. For some, it's just a whimsical notion they want to share with me, while for others their desire is more wistful. I often tell these people that they should just start writing, that they would probably be surprised at what they could accomplish.

I often suggest they write a story about their lives and life experiences. They typically laugh, "Oh, there's nothing interesting about my life. I wouldn't have anything to write about."

"Au contraire," I say to them. Everyone has a story. It may not be the stuff of high adventure, but life everybody's life is a journey, full of joys and sadness, triumphs and failures, satisfaction and disappointment. Those things are the foundation of good literature.

For those who appear more than superficially interested, I recommend they begin with a written story premise describing the theme of your story. You should decide story's beginning, middle, and end. Create a structure outline that fills in the essential components of the structure you choose. This part takes a little work in learning about story structure, but it's not rocket science.

I personally always develop a biography reference for each of my characters and keep it up to date as I evolve the story during writing. I find that this helps me keep track of my characters.

Okay, it's not easy, otherwise everybody would write a book, but it's not impossible. If we include self-published books, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million books are published EACH YEAR. I know - unbelievable. No wonder I'm having such a hard time becoming a best-seller author.

I think that everyone who has always thought they should write a book someday should just sit down and begin writing. It's cathartic and a very rewarding experience. I started my writing career by writing a fictional memoir based on my own life. I made it fictional so that I could embellish or omit as saw fit in an effort to make it (hopefully) a good story. Go ahead - try it.

National Pumpkin Awareness Month

The picture for this month's My Blog is a picture of us, Paula and me.  I know - scary. Paula and I went to a Halloween party on Saturday dressed for Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) using the traditional calavera (skull - or sugar skull) as the theme. Paula's dress and makeup were amazing - she's not wearing a mask. That's a face painting she did on herself, taking two hours!

We have lots of costumes to choose from. We've always been big about celebrating Halloween. We hosted haunted hayride parties when we had Hellanback Ranch, and collected several different costumes as a result - cowboy, pirate, Robin Hood, Indiana Jones, boatman on the river Styx, crazed author...

Although I entitled this section "National Pumpkin Awareness Month", it is also "Native-American Awareness Month". It would be a good excuse to purchase Journey to Eden or Trouble in Choctaw County, if you haven't already done that.  Both books are about native-Americans.