As some people know, Mitch Albom just visited the Philippines. On February 23, 2014 (that's today, as I write this down), he graced Ayala Center Cebu with his presence. We all know Mr. Mitch. We know his books and have read them, so like I said, I won't dwell on that.
What I will talk about is the conversation that ran through my head during the, what, two- to three-hour wait. The question I had to answer was this: "What should I say to this author that would actually make an impact?"
My musings went like this:
Hi, Mr. Mitch.
Hello, sir. Thank you so much for being a writer.
Thank you so much for choosing to be a writer and being an awesome one.
Hello, sir. Thank you for choosing to be a writer instead of some other profession like a lawyer or businessman.
Hello, sir. Thank you for being a writer.
I hope you continue writing books.
Thank you for using your gift to . . .
Thank you for using God's gift to you for the people.
I hope you continue to use God's gift to you.
Thank you for sharing God's gift to you to the people.
I hope you continue to share God's gift to you to the people.
I hope you keep writing books that will at least make people believe that there is a God.
You truly are a blessing and a miracle.
You are a blessing and someone's miracle.
You truly are a blessing and indeed a miracle to many people.
You are a miracle. You are not an accident.
You are someone's miracle.
You are indeed a miracle for someone in this world.
Thank you for sharing your talent in this world.
Are you a Christian?
Do you believe in Christ?
Will I see you in heaven?
When the time comes, will I see you in heaven? I just want to know that you are using your gifts for eternal value.
Can you encourage me?
Can you encourage a frustrated writer to finish writing a book?
Can I ask you to encourage me to actually finish writing a book?
Do you have any advice for frustrated writers like me?
Do you have tips on being a writer?
Do you sleep? (As I was mulling over this question, I realize how stalker-ish it sounds.)
How many hours do you still get to sleep?
How many hours do you give to writing your novels?
When you write, do you also lose yourself in it that you forget what time it is?
Do you write all the time?
Do you have advice for writers with a day job?
Thank you for making a difference in this world.
Thank you for making a dent in this world.
Thank you so much, sir. God bless you.
I finally decided on what I would say.
Hello, sir. Thank you for being such a good writer. I hope you continue to share God's gift to you to the people. Can you encourage me to actually finish writing a book? Thank you so much, sir. God bless you.
So there. I've decided. As you can see, I edit myself a lot. I edit what I say in my head. That's probably why I don't talk as often as I used to and when I do talk impromptu, someone always ends up misunderstanding what I say. Unedited thoughts are dangerous. Editing words already said can be even more excruciating.
Anyway, I rolled those words around in my head for a couple of hours. Then I thought, Hmm, maybe asking for advice isn't appropriate here. I mean, let this day be about him. About his achievements. About the influence of his work and his charities. So I revised it, removing the "encourage me" part.
Me: Thank you for being a writer, sir. You're truly a blessing.
Mitch Albom: God bless you, honey, for saying that.
A few seconds in the presence of someone who has used his voice to change lives. And indeed, in that one line, I got the advice that I wanted.
I imagined that he would say "Quit" (because Hemingway said writers don't read other writers' work because they'd get jealous) or "Just keep writing" (because that's the easiest and really most common thing to do). I also thought that he might say something really inspiring that I'd sit in front of my laptop the whole night just writing until I publish something. But I got the advice I guess I needed.
"God bless you, honey, for saying that."
You know what I think? Although he may just have said that because that's the right thing to say, what I got was that saying things that can bless other people is the way to go. And he's right if that's what he meant. I understood that there is more awesome when you say things that will bless people than when you ask them to bless you. There is more depth in writing about helping people and indeed writing to help people rather than writing for personal gain. And even more, "for saying that" felt like "just keep writing" but heavier. It was heavier because what he said was what would be said if I actually finish writing. It was a "result" that he gave me, not the process. And I thank God for that.
Dear Sir Mitch Albom,
You are an awesome author. And you are blessed with a lovely wife who supports you so much. I hope that you will be blessed more so that you can bless more. All things are His and you are His creation. Yes, there is a God.
Have an amazing time writing more, sir!
To the rest of the world, there should be more books that don't just talk about superficial things. We should be reading more things that make us think. And I admit I've only really read Tuesdays with Morrie (and that was a rather traumatic experience because of circumstances not entirely related to the book), but I believe that a person as influential as Mitch Albom can produce such quality work that even those of us who haven't really dived into his books would want to dig right in. Yes, I'm promoting his books . . . also because I just love promoting reading.
Reading is awesome. Have fun!