“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
― Emily Dickinson

A remarkable and memorable bit of wisdom that I received recently concerned my observation that in spite of my dedication and determination, my book – Two papas – a tale of Impossible Holocaust survival, is not receiving the commercial success that I would choose. The purpose of the book was never that type of recognition, i.e., making hordes of money. Its purpose was to remind those who need to know that we must never forget the Holocaust or we tacitly allow it to happen again. Indeed, seeing t-shirts with “6MWE” or Six Million Wasn’t Enough, referring to the Holocaust and extermination of 6 million Jews was a stark reminder that Nazis haven’t left our world.

The reminder that I received was that very few people who write books or anything else receive public acclaim or fame. My friend suggested that the reason to write is the pure joy of filling blank spaces with words and characters that never existed before that time. It’s a beautiful philosophy – one that made me very happy and understood.

We make a mistake when we believe that we are creating the Great American Novel or whatever and that we will be appreciated and celebrated accordingly. Worse than that, we make a greater mistake when we depend our happiness on receiving that acclaim. In no other ways do we hand off the responsibility of our happiness or fulfillment to others. Why do it with a published book, poem, essay, or treatise?

Ms. Dickinson clearly substantiated this approach. She looked at a word until it began to shine. My book is an achievement that is gratifying. It is also illuminating, well-intentioned, and developed from a sincere desire to honor all those affected by the Holocaust. Being on a bestseller list would not make any of those feelings better or more joyous.

And so, I recommend that those who have the soul to write do so. Fill your blank pages with words and people and events that mean something to you through their creation. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Shalom.

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