It reminded me of a conversation I had at Necon many years ago, when I had but a few short story credits to my name. A rather physically imposing writer sidled up to me. A big burly guy, fresh off his motorcycle, with arms the size of my legs, and he put one of those massive tree trunk arms around me and pulls me aside with the words “we need to talk.”
“I’ve been watching you, he said. You run around and do all this stuff. You’re on message boards, you’re helping friends, you’re reading and critting stuff for folks, you’re organizing events and are pitching in to help out. So … do you actually write? I know that you do, I’ve read your stuff.” [insert inner squeal at the thought that *he* reads *me*] “It just seems to me that you’re so busy doing stuff now that you aren’t taking the time to finish things and nurture your own career. I know you want to help people wherever you are and I love that about you. And I can see by the look on your face that this is not computing.”
“Think of it this way: take a bit, focus on your career, push through to the next level and think of how many others you’ll be able to help from that next level.”
[And we’ll skip the part about how much time I had lost trying to help those who either didn’t want or weren’t ready to be helped. Or getting bogged down by the sheer amount of users, takers, sponges, and all around general dirt bags who can suck up so much of our precious, precious little time.]
So, I guess in short, change, but don’t change. The heart of generosity and selflessness should never be diminished or discouraged. We need as many lights in this world as possible. Just don’t forget to do what you were meant to do.