• Melissa Gouty

Thanks, Ann Handley, for "Relentless Empathy"

Two words jumped off the page, slapped me in the face, and crawled into my head.

"Relentless Empathy."

They stomped over to the line of twinset phrases that have punctuated my life, "I do." "Stay calm." and "Oh, Lord!" before they boldly took control.

Relentless empathy "takes the cake," as my old Maw-Maw would have said.

Thank you, Ann Handley, for those remarkable words.

Your book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content is a Wall Street Journal Bestseller. Great advice in simple language. Enlightening and entertaining. Useful and urgent.

You carry me through the fundamentals of commercial copywriting in much the same way that Anne Lamott or Natalie Goldberg, (two of my other idols) whisked me into the world of creative writing.

And your phrase "relentless empathy" is unforgettable. (Hear me crooning with Natalie Cole as you read.)

It's also important.

Any writer worth her salt - whether penning novels or newsletters - must have empathy. A writer has to understand the audience's likes and dislikes. Know its desires. Be willing to bore into someone else's mind in order to address specific needs and problems.

I certainly can't write well if I don't understand who I'm writing to.

You made me think.

Relentless empathy should be a life phrase, not just a writing concept.

If everyone practiced it, the divorce rate would tank. No group would be persecuted. No murders, assaults, or thefts. No betrayal, corruption, or deception. Hate crimes would be non-existent. World conflicts would be resolved.

Yeah, right.

Relentless empathy is an unforgettable phrase.

It may also be unattainable.

But I'm sure as heck going to give it my best shot.

As a writer, I need it. As a human, I need it even more.

Thank you, Ann Handley, for reminding me.

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