“Steph, can you put together an in-service for the staff about how to write with heart?”
“Huh? Write with what? What do you mean?”
“Well, you know. How you write really hard stories — or even everyday ones — with some real ‘heart’ in them? You do that well.”
“I do?” My blank stare. “Um, sure?”
I’d never thought about how to do anything “with heart,” so I had to sit down and ruminate. Thinking about it, I realized I often had been given difficult assignments — talking to loved ones of people who died tragically, mostly — and had come away with solid but heartfelt stories that shared facts and feelings and honored, as best they could, the dead.
Oh, right. That. How does one do that?
If I remember right, at the staff meeting I prattled on about honing skills of observation, being slightly vulnerable with others and listening to good, journalistic interviews for ideas.
Newspaper people are notoriously cynical, a tough crowd to beat all tough crowds. I vaguely remember eye rolls, tongue clucks, a few snickers. But I saw some reluctant head nods and a couple of discreet looks of actual interest.
I was thinking of this “with heart” thing recently when preparing for a job interview. I wanted to be able to explain how I would tackle giving bed baths to hospice patients, changing their linens and talking with their families during home visits with heart.
I know I would do any kind of patient care, even “just” bed baths and linen changes, with heart. In general, I don’t find much pleasure or success in doing most anything without heart. I do laundry with heart — most times.
I don’t know if I convinced anyone of it, but I did think for a couple of days, again, about how one does anything — writes if one’s a writer, sings if one’s a singer, nurses if one’s a nurse, mothers if one’s a mother, stacks wood if one’s a wood stacker — with heart.