Just recently, I saw an old movie called The Star, featuring Betty Davis and a lovely young 14-year old Natalie Wood. In a post-film review, I heard following story:
The movie called for a scene where Natalie Wood had to jump off a boat into the ocean. Natalie was afraid of the water and couldn’t swim. At one point, she burst into tears, but the director insisted she follow the script and do the scene. Then Betty Davis stepped in. She told the director in no uncertain terms that she would walk off the set if he tried to force Natalie to jump into the water. Natalie never had to jump.
Years later, Natalie Wood recalled this moment. She and Betty Davis became friends as a result of that film. Natalie said that seeing Betty Davis take her part taught her that it wasn’t a bad thing to stand up to a director—a lesson she never forgot.
Standing up—for ourselves and others—is so important! We can do this in many ways:
We can stand up for freedom of expression: I think of the brave writers around the world who risk so much by defying attempts to silence them. And of teachers and librarians who are standing up for the rights of students to read a wide array of books and to keep banned books on the shelves.
And closer to home:
We can stand up for our friends: When writers we know experience rejection, or feel low about themselves, or think of abandoning a beloved project because it’s not going well—we can stand up for them. We can encourage them and inspirit them by giving them the support and practical advice they need to keep going.
We can stand up for our work: No one enjoys smooth sailing all the time. Getting our work out into the world isn’t easy. We face a lot of turndowns and naysayers—people who question what we’re doing. When this happens it’s so important that we stand up for our work—that we believe in its value and continue to create as we choose to.
We can stand up for ourselves: As creatives, we can be hard on ourselves. We can give ourselves a hard time when our work is stalling or scrambling away from us. Let’s remember that writing is hard work and be kind to ourselves. And let’s take to heart those helpful words, “This, too, shall pass,” and keep going in “quietness and confidence.”
When we stand up, we stand tall. And when we stand tall, we can see farther and think bigger. Write on!