The most generous offering I’ve ever heard on what constitutes real hospitality came from my son-in-law, who was born and raised in Lebanon.
And I quote:
“When you are in my house, it does not matter what I want or need–all that matters is what you, as my guest, are wanting or needing.”
When was the last time you were on the receiving end of that level of hospitality?
When was the last time you offered that level of hospitality?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions for you in the privacy of your own home.
Last weekend my son-in-law’s mother was a guest in our home. She’d come to the States to visit her sons and meet her new grandsons (one of which we share).
It was important to me that she feel welcome, comfortable and satisfied while she was with us, and I made a point to check with my son-in-law to find out what she did or didn’t like as far as food.
I learned that she didn’t eat meat or cheese—had never liked it. She preferred vegetarian fare, but would eat chicken. She liked granola cereal with milk for breakfast, and she began each day with several cups of spoon-supporting thick Turkish coffee—which she would supply for herself.
She liked dishes made with rice. Would eat eggs and loved chocolate, but didn’t overdo it on the sweets category.
If you think I went overboard, try reversing the scenario.
If you went to someone’s house for a visit, wouldn’t you want to have food and beverages available that you really enjoy?
The planning and work ahead paid off and we all enjoyed a fine extended weekend together with everyone having something to eat that suited their preferences.
Hospitality isn’t only for house guests and hotels; I believe good submission hospitality is a must for a writer’s toolbox.
What do your submissions look like when you send them to an editor or prospective agent/publisher?
I visited with an editing friend of mine last week. He was reading a manuscript for a client. He even read me a few paragraphs, and the writing was quite, quite good. And then he told me that the submission had come to him with not so much as a page number in the whole stack, which made extra work for him in trying to keep the pages in order as he worked his way through.
If you were in his shoes, how long would you have put up with reading that submission?
Recently, during an interview, a publisher told me he is constantly amazed at how he spells out on his website what he is and is not looking for, yet hopefuls will approach him: “I know this isn’t really your type of thing, but I’m going to send it to you anyway, just in case.”
“Hmmmm . . . really? What part of my printed guidelines didn’t you read?”
Would you want to be stuck with piles and piles of pointless paper that need to be hauled to the recycle bin?
Still another editor shared with me that he is absolutely shocked at the condition of some of the submissions that turn up in his inbox: single-spaced rough drafts, no page numbers, no paragraph separations, tiny fonts printed in faded ink . . . You get the idea.
I don’t think we do ourselves any favors as writing aspirants when we become so totally self-involved in our own writing that we fail to give serious consideration—as well as research—to what our reader on the receiving end needs in order to help them do their job. Their job being the reading of our work that just might lead to their falling in love with our project and helping us move it another step forward.
Really good hospitality is all about enabling and assisting another to have a fully acceptable experience.