The problem with critiquing is in the measuring. When is it good? When has it passed good and into great? How do you know you’re improving? Enough? If I apply more effort will it help or hurt? With physical exertion, you know almost immediately when you’ve gone too far. Pain. Sharp. Sudden. Stop. That’s your feedback.
The only true measure of whether a piece of writing is any good is the impact it has on its intended audience.
Did it engage them? Did it move them? Did it change them?
All other questions are irrelevant.
Of course, this creates a problem for serious writers like you who want to hone their skills. Because by the time you publish your work and learn your audience’s reaction, it’s too late to make any changes.
And if your writing isn’t connecting with your audience, the most common reaction is no reaction at all:
No comments on your latest blog post.
No emails praising (or damning) your bold manifesto.
The problem I have with the above excerpt, is the assumption that if you are really good, you’ll get noticed. And tons of accolades. But I have read poems and novels that are pieces of crap and there are plenty of comments. Has anyone out there read 50 Shades of Gray? It’s becoming a movie. The story line is cheesy and it was originally intended as a Twilight fan fiction. The media attention this book received was unreal, but it remains a poorly written book (not good, not great)
Which brings me to my point, I’ve read a lot of great, exceptional, and life changing blogs that I never comment on. Some have no obvious place for comments, see Seth’s blog. And even some that do see receive only a few comments at best. Mostly (not always) the blogs I see with comments are encouraging a new writer to continue writing or comments shooting down what the blogger stated. You can’t write for comments and prizes. You write because it feels good, just as in running. I write because I must write. I must express myself. I need my voice heard. I feel like this lady: You Don’t Have to be Napoleon to Change the World.
It’s possible I took this article in the wrong light. I admit I can be a bit touchy sometimes, but if you don’t meet the criteria in his bullet list does that make you a wannabe? Or maybe it’s just my definition of Wannabe. You tell me, am I being touchy, or is it insulting?
Warning! Space less than 2 inches. Air in short supply. The alarms are ringing, every muscle in my body is stiff. My brain is not functioning. Shut down in 10, 9, 8, etc.
I have felt extreme panic just driving over a narrow bridge. It felt as if my blood was ice-cold, my breath stuck in my lungs, and panic seized my entire body, just as if a tiger was right in front of me. Is it fear or is it my alarm warning of true danger? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
When I was first married, we allowed a door to door, fire and security alarm salesman to come into our new home. Partly because the salesman was a friend of a friend and partly to hear what the guy had to say, we let him go through his salesman pitch. A good salesman can sell ice cubes to an Eskimo they always say. This guy was good. And he used fear as his purchase motivation. He casually looked out our back window. Noticing a privacy fence, he told a scenario of a burglar or rapist climbing over a fence and breaking into our home while I was alone. Normally those thoughts would scare me, but not this time. His fear tactic was a little too obvious. He painted his scary story with too much cliché.
Resetting my alarm is something I’ve worked with for 15 years and more. With the recent crime spree in Tulsa I’ve had to get a grip. My solution was to buy a security alarm, read up on home invasion prevention, and listen to some hypnosis audio to help ease the panic. Of course some of the danger was real, but like the salesman who painted the picture of danger, my mind’s vivid imagination was a bit overdone.
The Tulsa rapist came to an ironic end. After his 8th assault, he swerved off the highway and crashed into a pole. The police had already identified him as a potential suspect and with the last bit of DNA evidence, they confirmed him as the rapist. He was brain-dead from the crash and before the DA could file charges against him, his family pulled the plug.
Why is it when I see beauty I think I need to own it? And when I think of owning something I become distressed because I can’t afford the object of beauty. So my faulty reasoning kicks in and tells me if I can’t own the beautiful object then I can’t enjoy the beauty. Not true.
I can still enjoy the beauty and the warm glow inside of me from seeing the beauty. Touching it. Smelling it. No one owns the sky and the clouds, but yet on a warm sunny day I feel the pleasure of the birds flying and the soft clouds floating.
Beauty can’t be contained. You can’t bottle it up and store some for later. It’s that moment. Only exactly that moment. Trying to describe the beautiful ruggedness of the Rocky Mountains and how the air is crisp in the morning when you climb the trails, is like trying to explain a joke. The punchline loses it’s punch. If I see something that I think is beautiful I have to stop at that moment and appreciate it. Someone beside me may see beauty also but I can’t explain the awe to them. Not with a thousand pictures. Take fewer pictures and live more moments.
First, there’s the discomfort. It’s either boredom or dissatisfaction of where I’m at or how something is working. Inconvenience can trigger the discomfort also, like constantly walking around the same chair in my path.
Second, there’s dreaming, of wants, desires or possibilities. Do I like the chair? Should I put in another room? Rearrange the Living room?
Third, I bring it down to reality by choosing the most practical ideas. Sketch out my Living room furniture placement. Arrange it on paper.
Fourth, I write a plan. Maybe the easiest thing for today is move the chair into the bedroom.
Fifth, I take the first steps. Move the chair. I can decide over the next few days if it’s working.
What turns me into a confused ball in the corner of the room is a different solution popping up in front of me. One or two more ways of solving my problem and it starts my process over again. At that point I have to regroup and reassess. How does this change my decision? If I possibly can I like to ponder for a few days until I have my aha! moment. Otherwise I make the simplest choice first, like in my example of the chair. I can move the chair from one room to another easier than I can arrange the furniture again and again. Sometimes you have to do the big thing, but at least you’ve tried the simple ones first.
Sloppy vs Perfected
Life is about choices. Nothing’s inherently right or wrong, it’s only a matter of my preferences. Life is the rough draft and the final presentation is the last breath of life. In those last moments you review all the refining you’ve done. Sometimes the rough draft is alright. Hastily slapped together and just getting it done works better than not doing anything at all when it comes to kisses, food and proposals. I’d rather a quick kiss and an I love you than not ever, ever being told, but there comes a time for refining those choices. If you really love that person, eventually you have to refine your sloppy kisses into steps that have meaning. Whether it’s inviting them to coffee or not forgetting their birthday, you have to take the first step.
The company I work for is wanting to move its office to a more spacious building. One that could house all of our office staff, including the warehouse. In the process of negotiating with the city council and the surrounding businesses, the owner of our company has met with some opposition. Not fire-breathing dragons at least, but bear-like opposing forces. Developer challenges downtown parking moratorium
The site is a renovation paradise but has some tight restrictions. 3rd and Kenosha is known as Hodges bend. Getting a permit to build a parking lot is like putting a girdle on a fat lady. And we must have parking.
In the dynamics of asserting our wishes, as a company or as an individual, the surrounding area will feel some trauma. It must. It either gives way and caves in to your force or becomes dented and scuffed. If you are the heavy weight and bully your way through, they’ll cave in and let you have it. But this is a disturbing picture in my mind since you’ve broken the harmony of the place and it’s no longer the environment you wanted before. Much like the child who wants the kitten, if the child isn’t gentle the kitten loses his anime. Yeah the bully gets what he wants, but the true essence is no longer there. The flower is dead and might as well be plastic.
Gentle persistence. We weave ourselves into the life of our dreams, gradually becoming a familiar face. We coax with subtlety, refining along the way. We expand, contract and conform all the while asserting our wishes. Exhausting? Sometimes. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. To win friends and influence people you can’t bully and demand. You use kindness and not in that overly kind, passive-aggressive way that annoys the heck out of all of us. The type that you feel you have to return the favor.
The surrounding area for our new office is owned by a local guy.With several retail shops and a bar under his ownership, he’s gradually building his empire. It’s an impressive story by itself. http://www.newson6.com/Global/story But there are always new kids coming into town. The game we play changes and the rules adapt. This is life and we live it every day. Sometimes it alters while we are not paying attention, so it seems like an outside force has wiped the old away and displayed the new. Truly it was only one person or a group of persons that developed a different view. Not evil, not good, just different.
Peace isn’t always about submission. It’s often about getting what you want as well as allowing the other their needs as well. Equilibrium, dynamic, hormesis.
Sometimes I just need to let go. Let go of the plans. Let go of the expectations. Let go of my disappointment. I wonder what life would feel like in free fall. I’m not a complete control freak…really. I know some of my friends will laugh at that. But I like to know where I’m going. Surprises are fine, if they are good. Who am I fooling? Yes, I’m a control freak. I confess. I tried to adapt once and it just didn’t work for me. I blame my birth sign. I was born a Virgo and I am true to the sign.
There’s a Swedish detective TV show called Wallander. In the first episode, the detective is talking with his father. The older man has developed signs of Alzheimer and the two have put aside their grievances to come to terms with the disease. The older man said, “When you were a boy you used to ask me about my work, the painting. ‘Why are they always the same, Dad?’ ‘Why don’t you do something different?’ I could never explain. You see, each morning, when I start, I think I’ll do something else. This morning I’ll paint a seascape. This morning I’ll do a still life, maybe an abstract, just splash the paint, see where it takes me. And then I start, and every time, I paint the same thing. The landscape. Whatever I do, this is what comes out. What you’ve got is your painting. I may not like it, you may not like it, but it’s yours.”
This reminds me of the word integrity. Some have taken and tried to misuse it, saying it means goodness or purity, but it originally didn’t. Integrity only means something true to itself. A sword would have integrity if it retained its shape, strength, and stamina after a battle. A framework for a house has integrity if it holds strong after a storm. It doesn’t mean without flaws or godly or any of that nonsense. It remains true to its intended use or strength.
I find it funny that for years of my life I tried to be someone else. I held up a false front and pretended. But after a while I got tired of pretending. Somewhere along the way I think I even forgot that I was pretending. That time has passed for me. So who am I kidding? I am a Virgo and I am true to the sign.
A while back, out by the communal dumpster, I found a big wooden frame. A heavy one. The gilding had mostly worn off. It was perfect! I took that baby in and cleaned, primed, and painted it white. Semi-gloss white. I put some wallpaper as an insert and hung it up in my dining room. Beautiful. I love finds. I love to dumpster dive. Well mostly only when I have a great find. I absolutely adore finding that long forgotten treasure. The item that someone threw away not knowing how perfect it was.
Re-framing your life, becoming Cinderella for yourself, what is it? There’s a moment in all of our lives that we stop and wonder, how did I get here? We live our lives without a plan. We are born and we die. The life in between just seems to happen. School, marriage, family, illness, work. The boy who starts out washing cars and ends up with a chain of auto detailing shops didn’t become the speed racer he dreamed of as a child, but he’s not the failure he thinks he is. He just needs to take another look.
Why do you need to update? Do you really need to change? Aren’t you just fine as you are? Yes. Absolutely. That’s the deal. You don’t change. It’s you changing how you feel about you. That picture frame didn’t change. It just received a whole new attitude. Just a coat of paint. There was no restructuring. Someone had given up on it and I brought it in because I saw what it was. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship. In the same way, you can look at yourself and know that you are too.
Where to begin? Starting over? Are you depressed? Hate your life? Or maybe you are in the middle of changes which are frightening. Life is step by step. It’s also taking another look. Get a new perspective. Open the curtains and let in the sun. Using metaphors and analogies is a great way to re-frame, re-picture, recapture what was lost. What went wrong that you wanted to go right? Take the part of yourself, the energy that you feel you wasted and rebuild yourself. Do something that is not requiring anyone else to show up.
What can I re-frame? Your job, your house, your friends, your life, your family. Maybe you aren’t the typical household or the lovey-dovey family. So? Find the good stuff of your family and cherish it. Make a collage of the aspects of your family that you adore. The trip to the mall with your kids? The double-dip ice cream cone your son had to have. The outrageous science project your daughter and her dad made together. This is your life. Cherish it.
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