By Darvell Hunt
Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed listening to Thomas S. Monson speak. If I could describe the tone of his voice, his demeanor, and the content of almost every one of his talks, it would have to be thus: Master Storyteller.
I had the pleasure of hearing President Monson speak again last Friday at the Utah Valley University graduation commencement ceremony, where he and his wife both received honorary doctorate degrees from the new university. I didn’t known he was the speaker when my sister invited me to her graduation services.
Once again, I found his voice and his message mesmerizing. It reminded me of a more intimate meeting with him in 1983 in the mountains outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he stood and spoke on a grassy field with LDS scouts, who were attending the World Scout Jamboree, sitting all around him. I don’t remember what he said that day, but he made an impression upon me. He was close enough to us scouts to hear him without voice amplification, but it was the same story-telling voice I had heard in conference and that same voice has kept me captivated for years.
I mention hearing President Monson last week, not for his stories this time, but because of the advice he gave graduating college students—advice that I consider great for writers as well. He suggested three points that would help graduates succeed in this economically-challenged word, and I think they will help me and any other writer who chooses to take heed.
Here are his three points:
1. Glance Backward.
2. Reach Outward.
3. Press Forward.
We write who we are and what we have experienced, we reach out to our readers and other writers for support, encouragement, and help with our craft, and we must never stop trying and never stop learning.
I have always looked to President Monson for spiritual guidance—and yes, for entertainment—but now I plan to use his advice to maintain the courage, drive, and strength to work on my writing until I reach success—whatever that may be—and then go beyond that and do a little more. I will glance backward, reach outward, and press forward—and never stop as long as I have breath.