Without a doubt, it was the comment that came up most in my end of school report: She has a huge amount of empathy.
Now, I tend to paraphrase the living daylights out of that comment (“She has so much empathy, she frightens us,” *shrug* I enjoy the drama), but the empathy thing came up in reports from my English, German, Geography and RE teachers. There may have been others.
There were probably others.
Recently, I read somewhere that empathetic people tend to attract narcissists. I don’t know how true that is, but it would explain my leaning towards artistic types. The arts are filled with empaths and narcissists. An empath serves out bowl after bowl of understanding, where the narcissist ladles back self-belief. We live off each other. As you can see, I love a food-based metaphor.
It’s an unfortunate condition of being a writer. We have to read our reviews. The criticisms tend to outlive everything else, but we’re told we must read the reviews because it’s the only way we’ll grow as authors. Which strikes me as peculiarly unfair. Actors are told not to read their reviews because a particularly barbed comment might crush their creativity and leave them a dribbling wreck, rocking back and forth, in a dismal little corner somewhere, with a bottle of brandy. Makes perfect sense to me.
However, I think it’s understood that reviews lead to sales. If some unknown writes a book, good for them, but will we ever see it? Probably not. Now, when a book receives ten reviews on the platform, Amazon pops the cover into a rotating sidebar, so that readers who might have never heard of an author, will at least have the chance to see the book. And, when said tome receives fifty reviews, Amazon pops it in the newsletter.
In the meantime, however, the writer is told to read all the reviews and learn from them. I’ll admit, it can be challenging being an overly-emotional person and reading reviews of one’s own work. But it’s not as if I can ask someone else to do it for me. I can imagine how worried they would be in case there was a bad one, and since I’ll already be fraught with their concern, I might as well keep it to myself.
So, you might be asking yourself, in this run of 365 Happy Days, what’s so good about being an empath?
I would much sooner understand people than not. I think it must be very frightening to not understand people, given that they’re everywhere.
I know what my characters are thinking even when they don’t.
I know the difference between needing a hug and needing a lasagne.
And I can sense emotional stuff like Estée Lauder perfume across a room.
Not particularly marketable, but I count it as a life skill.