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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thick Skinned

I haven’t been creating many posts for my blog as of late because I am in the zone of finishing the second book in my series. Even though I want to do regular posts, my mind has been heavily engaged in my work in progress. The second book is nearing completion, and then the real work comes of editing, and re-editing.
That being said I did want to share a moment I had with my daughter the other day.

Katie just started high school. My youngest is now officially in high school, and that raises many other issues for me personally, but we had an interesting conversation.
Just like me, she has a passion for writing. She is a voracious reader, which is a feat in itself for her because she is dyslexic. Thankfully, she has been able to learn how to cope with this, and now we are repeatedly making our way down to Barnes and Noble to find her something else to read.

Now that she is in high school, she has been able to have more variety to her classes. She chose to take newspaper, and she is able to write articles that will hopefully make it into the local high school paper. After the first week of school and this class, she didn’t seem to hold the same fervor that she had originally held.
I asked if she wanted to drive into town with me, and she agreed. She doesn’t have her driver’s license yet, and escaping from the country for a little city stimulation is always welcomed to a 15 year old girl.

We started driving the 30-minute drive into town, and having her as a captive audience, I decided to engage her in some small talk.
So being mom, I asked, “How is your newspaper class going?”
She asked how I would feel if she dropped the class.
I thought about it for a minute, and then told her that if that was what she wanted to do, I was ok with it. After all, I want to make sure she wants to learn, and has classes she loves.
But I wanted to know why, so I dug a little deeper.
“Why do you want to drop the class? Is it too hard?” I asked.
She explained to me that after she turned in her articles, her fellow classmates criticized it, or said she needed to change this, or something else didn’t sound right……you know where I’m going with this.
I explained to her, been there done that. But then, I also said to her that even though it sucks to have someone tear apart what you have written, and it hurts, each time that it happens, your writing will improve from it, and it won’t feel personal after a while.
I didn’t want to sound like I was lecturing her, so I just used examples from my own writing for her, she has been with me every step of the way creating my first book, and she has heard me dissecting feedback.
I told her what I do after I have someone read something I have written, and I get the feedback, skim over it, get all butt hurt, let it sink in for a little bit, and then I read it again, and again. I take the recommendations that my reader suggests because that is what I want, to produce something that will be great and I can’t get that without some feedback, good or bad.
I also told her that it helps you to gain “tough skin” and with each instance, it gets a little bit easier to take it, and then I use that information and learn from it. It’s hard not to take it personally at first, but when you get that very much needed tough skin, your writing will get better and better, and it won’t bother you, because the words from others will make you better. Not only will it help your writing, it will help in many aspects of everything you do. Having a tough skin will help you to overcome setbacks, and adversity thorough out your life.
She just nodded and smiled from the passenger side of the truck, and then we started listening to an audio book as we drove into town.

Later that night, she came to me and started asking questions about a sentence, or a synonym for something and then scurried off to her room again, sitting at her computer. Curious, I asked what she was working on. She said, “My article for the paper, it’s due tonight, so I got to get it too my editor.”
I know I looked confused when I responded to her. “I thought you were going to drop that class?”
She looked up from her computer, “I thought about what you said, and I’m going to stick it out, because I need a thick skin.” She smiled at me, and then went back to her writing.

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