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Author Talena Winters
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The Secret to Being More Human

"You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself."
- John Steinbeck

In every group of people who like things, there is almost always a group that tends to become exclusivists. They read only this kind of book, listen only to that kind of music, watch only this kind of T.V. show. They might even be loyal to only a few creators or subgenres within a given artform.

Now, the reasons for such exclusivity may vary. Frankly, the more things we've tried, the more right we have to decide that we will limit what we devote our time and money to. And creators cannot continue making art without superfans devoted to their work, so by all means, support those artists!

But there is a dark side to exclusivity, too. Always surrounding yourself with too much of the same thing can result in becoming narrow-minded, even if that "thing" celebrates diversity within itself. (Every art form has its limitations.) It's the proverbial "echo chamber" that social media algorithms can produce, multiplied by everything our minds consume.

How do we counter this?

The key, in my opinion, is to engage with people different than yourself. One way to do that is to regularly and deliberately consume art that is outside our comfort zone, and the people who love that art. Why?

Consuming a wide variety of art and getting to know the people who relate to it is one of the easiest ways to increase our empathy. And with more empathy, we become better able to love and get along with our fellow human beings.

Art is, by its very nature, an invitation to empathy. Most creators infuse their art with pieces of themselves or pieces of others that they identify with by using their own empathy.

The cycle of empathy continues when the consumer of the art also opens themselves up to experiencing what the art is about—whether it be a singer's heartbreak, a painter's angst or tranquility, or the problems of characters in a work of fiction.

When we can understand something from someone else's point of view, we may not agree with it, but at least we'll tend to look at what we have in common with that person instead of what divides us.

For a personal example, I am not a fan of heavy metal music. But I have friends who are, and who will wax on about the practice and devotion to their craft that a talented musician in that genre must have to be any good.

I am still not a fan of heavy metal music, but I can now appreciate what is required to create it. On occasion, I'll even listen to some to see if I can hear what my friends are on about. And surprisingly (or maybe not!), I've found a few songs I enjoy and that are now on my play list.
 

Art is, by its very nature, an invitation to empathy.


For a more bookish example, the main character of Finding Heaven is an erotica writer who hates her job. When I started writing that book, not only had I not read any erotica, I confess to having similar judgmental attitudes about it as Sarah does at the beginning of the book.

In Sarah's case, her attitudes sprang from the wounds of her past—and, as I worked through those with her (empathy!), I also had to address some wounds in my own past that contributed, in part, to my attitude about that genre. We both made peace by the end of the book.

Have I read erotica now? Not exactly. As research for writing that book, I did read the detailed synopses of a couple of popular erotica books to try to understand what it is that appeals to readers and writers of it. I also now know some erotica writers, and they are wonderful people with whom I have more in common than not, and who patiently put up with my questions.

As I learned more and used my empathy, I came to understand that Sarah's wounds, and mine, do not apply to everyone, and people can like a thing for reasons I can understand, even if I don't grow to like that thing.

And therein is the root of empathy, and why both creating art and consuming a wide variety of art is such a powerful tool to expand your powers.

Empathy helps us to resolve conflicts, develop better policies and initiatives, be better leaders, be better lovers, parents, friends, and neighbours, and create better art.

Empathy is the result of love, and it also feeds love in a beautiful, self-perpetuating cycle.

Without it, we devolve into selfishness and tyranny. With it, we can be emissaries of love and peace in a dark, selfish world.

This is why we need to consume art that features a wide variety of perspectives, made by a wide variety of creators. Seeing the world from someone else's perspective helps us to become mature.

Welcome to humanity.
 

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?"
- Henry David Thoreau

Newsworthy:

The Undine's Tear by Talena Winters

The Undine's Tear Coming May 14

It's hard to believe, but the release date for my new book is almost here. It's not too late to read for free as an ARC reader, but if that's too much commitment, you can start counting down the sleeps to when you get to pick up your own copy.

The book is already available for pre-order in several online stores, including Kobo, Nook, Kindle, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indigo-Chapters. Click on the link below and scroll down to get direct links to these retailers to place your pre-order.

Preorder The Undine's Tear
The Waterboy ebook
I released the standalone series prequel The Waterboy three weeks ago, and it's been so great to see the comments and reviews coming in. If you were unable to download your copy, please reply to this email and let me know.

If you've read it, would you mind leaving a quick review on Goodreads? Thanks in advance.

Leave review

Upcoming Events:

Along with the release of my book, I have two launch parties planned (in Peace River and Sylvan Lake) and several book signing trips throughout Alberta.

Albertans, please check my Events Page for details and to add one to your calendar. (You can also find these in the Events section of my Facebook Author Page.)

I look forward to seeing you!
See Upcoming Events

From the Blog:

Winters' Day In blog - Please, Get Uncomfortable

Please, Get Uncomfortable

Christians tend to grab a flag—and a sword and pitchfork—whenever we perceive that our “rights” or our “faith” are being threatened. But as the standard-bearers of Christ, are we really crusading for what we think we are?

Read the Post

Winters' Day In blog - Real Talk: What The EHT Black Hole And My Fiction Career Have In Common

Real Talk: What The EHT Black Hole And My Fiction Career Have In Common

The Indie Publishing process, and the unique struggles that is posing at my current career phase. If you're looking for ways to help me out, please read this post.

Read the Post

I Need Your Input:

I have recently set up an artist's support page on Ko-fi. (To see why, read my Black Hole post above.)

Ko-fi is wonderful in its simplicity, but I have been struggling with trying to figure out what value I can thank my supporters with. Would you please take a few minutes and fill out this three-question survey to help me out?
Take Survey

What I Want to Know Is:

Which books have helped expand your empathy the most?

This is a book in which the author not only did a fantastic job in writing from the perspective of someone completely unlike himself, but which moved many others to empathize with his character, too. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my all-time favourite books.
Seek beauty, spread sunshine!



P.S. Did you read this in your browser? If you haven't already subscribed to this list, go here to make sure you never miss another newsletter: www.talenawinters.com/contact.
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