“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Steve Martin
A story: The late Barbara Jordan, once a Congresswoman from Texas, was nationally known and admired for her powerful and elegant speeches. “When Barbara spoke with that deep, booming voice, it was though she as speaking from tablets of stone. She had a presence few people do,” recalled former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen.
During her long political career in public service, Barbara achieved an impressive number of firsts. In 1966, when she was elected to the state Senate of Texas, she became the first African-American member since 1883 and the first African-American woman ever elected to the Texas Legislature. In 1972, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress from the South.
But Barbara’s storied career at the top started on the bottom — on the lowest rung of the political ladder. During her climb, her skills as an orator opened many doors to her and won her attention and admiration. “I worked for the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960,” she once recalled. “They put me to work licking stamps and addressing envelopes. One night we went out to a church to enlist Negro voters and the woman who was supposed to speak didn’t show up. I volunteered to speak in her place. Right after that they took me off licking and addressing.”
Later, in a highlight of her long career, Barbara delivered an inspiring keynote address at the 1976 Democratic convention and to play the same stellar role in 1992.
From licking stamps to delivering a keynote address at a national political convention – what a huge leap! And it all started with Barbara’s bold decision to speak out and make herself heard in a church somewhere. When she did, she was so good, the people around her couldn’t ignore her.
We can make the same choice in our writing! We can choose to work so arrdently and tenaciously that we push our work to another level – that it demands attention and then speaks for itself.
We can volunteer our services and meet people who can help us get where we want to go. We can put ourselves out in the world so people have a chance to see what we offer. We can have the confidence and faith in ourselves to believe our work is so good it deserves to be seen and enjoyed by readers everywhere.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you” – now that’s writing dangerously! Write on!
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