Wednesday, September 6, 2017

No Good Deed...

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is:  Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? I don’t know if this counts but once I wrote a short story about the supernatural and later found myself frightened by some of the ideas I created in my own work. 

Today I don't have an insecurity. I just want to speak in vague generalities about some stuff I've been thinking about: Back in the winter, I did a small favor for someone. It was a favor I didn't have to do, and refraining from this favor wouldn't have been a breach of ethics in any way. Someone I know needed guidance and I helped out. Since then, the ripple effects of my favor have sometimes been a source of stress for me.  

My experience makes me think of the saying: "No good deed goes unpunished." Come to think of it, I can think of a bunch of other instances in my life that this quote supports.

That said, I still believe in helping others (but while being mindful of my personal boundaries and natural instincts.) 

Being a writer and a reader, I have been reflecting on how much of the fiction I've seen tend to show positive reinforcement for kind deeds. While I've also come across fiction where negative consequences punish a good doer, I'd say I spot this less frequently. But with the latter kind of story, the potential for character development could be quite interesting. After all, what is the motivation for one to continue doing the right thing if they have suffered for doing just that? A story that addresses this question could be more enticing to explore than a story about a character who consistently gets a pat on the head for doing the right thing.

Have you ever been "punished" for doing a good deed? Can you name stories that illustrate negative consequences from good deeds?

11 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm trying to be of the mindset that I do the thing to be nice then whatever happens, happens. I'm trying to let go of any expectations, etc. It's not easy, but I'm working on it. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry it came back to bite you on the butt. Yes, it happens. It's happened to me. I keep doing good and the right thing because even if it goes south, God knows my heart.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Whistleblowers are the prime example--they do such an important service, yet often suffer greatly for it. A fellow student of mine in grad school did a whole project on whistleblowers, and her comment as she made her final presentation to us: "I don't know why anyone would ever do this, since just about all of them pay such a heavy price."

Chrys Fey said...

That's an interesting point. I know my characters do good thing and are rewarded or thanked for them, but I more often have negative consequences punish them. I'll have to add more every day kind deeds to my books. Maybe if more characters do them in books, more people will do good deed in real life. And people will know how too react properly to those good deeds.

S.P. Bowers said...

Unfortunately it does happen. I just keep telling myself that other peoples' actions don't change what I know is right. Of course, my husband calls me naive.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sometimes it can feel like helping out comes with a price or punishment. You're right that you have to know your boundaries. Sorry it's been stressful.

emaginette said...

I don't think so, but I make it clear I'm only offering advice. The decision is theirs because they have to live with the consequences. So maybe my attitude scares them away. :-)

Liz A. said...

This sounds like a future what if post for me. Thanks ;)

It's too bad that your help has led to stress. What lesson can you take away from the experience (besides "don't do favors" ;) ? Because I find that when I give or help, I get rewarded in unexpected ways.

Pat Hatt said...

Frightened by your own work makes it all the better.

Ugg, yep, have had it come back to bite me in the arse. that person gets crossed off forever.

I.B. Nosey said...

Whenever I share a cup of Gum Drop Island Choco-Hoffee, it often goes unappreciated. Dunno why. Too much chocolate, maybe, but can there EVER be too much chocolate?

Hope your stress level calms down, and Nosey apologies for whatever transpired. You're a brave kiddo, though, so hang in there.

Tyrean Martinson said...

That's definitely happened to me, but I still help others - just a little more cautiously. I'm also cautious about saying "yes" to volunteer committees (that's where it went wrong for me).
I think your idea would make for an compelling story. Happy writing!

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