There are people who are poisonous. And there are people who are sweet as honey.
I’ve been studying Proverbs, and there’s so much good stuff in there. As I’m circulating through the published and pre-published (and non-published) circles, I see people fall into two camps. Poison, and honey.
Prov 14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
On Twitter, Facebook, blogs and Wattpad, there are writers who are happy and enthusiastic. Wherever they are on their career path, they’re happy about it and willing to share advice and resources with others. They build up. They encourage.
Then there’s the poison people. The angry ones who rant about how poor their sales are. They brag about how drunk they are on Twitter. They curse other authors and tear them down (like all the Dan Brown and James Patterson hate. Good grief, people).
Prov 14:23 In all labor there is profit, but idle talk leads only to poverty.
In my circulating around the internets, I occasionally bump into a particularly vitriolic individual who never has a nice word to say about anything. I’ve watched this person poison everyone in their social circle. My goodness, the bitterness and bile! I will never recommend this person’s books to anyone, simply because I happen to know the author will get no joy from it.
Prov 14:30 A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
This week on Wattpad I joined a little “book club”, where everybody reads and comments on everybody’s books. There’s only seven books, I think and only one or two of them are completed, so it’s a pretty quick read. Everybody on there is kind, and helpful, and eager to learn. Everybody critiques everybody’s work. I suggested one writer look up the Emotion Thesaurus on the Bookshelf Muse, and she thanked me profusely. The critiques I’ve received have been surprisingly good, and I’ve been keeping notes for my next draft.
Prov 12:1 Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating.
So I’ve been trying to be careful of who I spend time with, online or off. Poison is easy to pick up, but honey has to come from inside. I don’t want to poison others. I want to sweeten their lives a bit.
Prov 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish and self-confident man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.
It makes me think of the story of the bee and the spider from Jonathan Swift’s Battle of the Books. After a bee escapes from a cobweb, he and the spider have an argument about who is better.
“…I visit, indeed, all the flowers and blossoms of the field and garden, but whatever I collect thence enriches myself without the least injury to their beauty, their smell, or their taste. … You boast, indeed, of being obliged to no other creature, but of drawing and spinning out all from yourself; that is to say, if we may judge of the liquor in the vessel by what issues out, you possess a good plentiful store of dirt and poison in your breast;… Your inherent portion of dirt does not fall of acquisitions, by sweepings exhaled from below; and one insect furnishes you with a share of poison to destroy another.
“So that, in short, the question comes all to this: whether is the nobler being of the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation of four inches round, by an overweening pride, feeding, and engendering on itself, turns all into excrement and venom, producing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb; or that which, by a universal range, with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax.”