COMPASSION - Now you folks out there who are writers or painters or clowns may wonder what compassion has to do with your chosen art. And because I have compassion for you, I'm going to explain.
Compassion needs to be extended to all, pervasively. And that includes to yourself. Compassion has two root words - com - meaning 'with' and pati which means 'to suffer'. To suffer with another is to have compassion. You suffer because they do. Easy to understand if you have a child or pet - when they are in pain, you wish them not to be. It is more than pity (which shares the root 'pati') because it is straight across from your heart to theirs - not from above. You are not pitying them - you are feeling what they feel.
How does this influence how a writer writes?
If you have compassion you will remember what it feels like to read a book, to become completely absorbed in the world of that book, and you will also remember those times when the writer discounted your basic needs as a reader. Perhaps they jerked you out of the fictive dream by some fat finger of their own ego sticking itself in. Maybe the writer introduced a plot line and then abandoned it so you were left with a question, or several, unanswered. Or the writer had no compassion for herself and wrote a book full of wit but completely without heart. When the author is not true to herself, she is not being compassionate. When she doesn't care about those who read her books then she is not being compassionate.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think that literary efforts have to be written in the style of gooey sentimentality (that is a discounting of readers' intelligence, after all) or full of high morals BUT if it isn't true then the reader will know. The reader might feel stupid for not knowing what is happening, or the references. The reader might feel like their natural vulnerability to characters and created stories is childish. All of these are signs that the artist, the writer, is not being compassionate.
Dare to be corny by times - dare to bravely show your vulnerability even if it isn't 'cool' or 'smart'.
How do bring compassion to your work?