Monday, September 6, 2010

Being easily offended

When I was a young woman, around fourteen, my youth group was asked to sing a song at an event. I can't even remember what for now, but I do remember the lady who taught us the song. We were at her house learning different parts, you know, alto, soprano and we came to a hard section. I tried over and over again to get it right, but finally the lady told me to just mouth the words at that part.

After that I never tried to learn to sing or do anything musical. Over the years I have regretted letting that woman have so much power over my decision. I wished I would have tried to sing better or learn to play the piano.

The same thing happened when I took a writing course, the instructor gave me an incredibly harsh critique. I'm sorry to say that I put the writing away for a while and once again gave all of the power in regards to my writing over to this lady.

I'm glad this time that I eventually persevered and have written two books, and although they aren't published, I'm definitely headed in the right direction.

So even though being critiqued on our work is a part of being a writer, don't let any critiques get you so down that you quit like I did with music. Keep on writing and learning and reading and don't give up on what you want.


Dawn Simon said...

That's sad about the music, but I'm glad you didn't let someone else define you with your writing.

I hope you had a nice weekend. :)

Piedmont Writer said...

Good for you Patti. I think once we hit a certain age in our lives we tend to dismiss the hurts from our past and stop letting them bully us into thinking we're not good enough. We are all good enough singers, even if we sing off key. We are all good enough writers, even if we never get published. We are all perfect in our own way.

Laura pauling said...

Sometimes crits are like that. We all have to remember that - a harsh critique is never a good one. We can be honest but there is definitely a nicer way to do it than harsh! Good you didn't listen for long!

Jessie Oliveros said...

What I really got from this post was-Patti started writing again! Patti needs to start singing again! Got it?

Jessie Oliveros said...

(I hope my crits don't get you so down you want to quit.)

Melissa Gill said...

Wow! Something very similar happened to me with my writing. In the third grade I heard my teachers laughing about my spelling and punctuation and decided writing was not good for me. I'm just sorry it took me 30 years to get over it.

Heidi Willis said...

It's amazing the power a few words can wield over us, especially when they come from someone that we shouldn't even care that much about.

I love to dance. I dance ugly. Now I don't care.

Sing and write and do what God put in your heart to do, and don't let someone else tell you you can't.

K. M. Walton said...

Isn't it amazing how some human beings have no idea as to how their words (facial expressions, body language, etc...) affect others?

And typically those human beings are adults. Frightening.

Melissa said...

I know what you mean. I received a really harsh crit over the summer. For about a week I wanted to quit. Or at the very least start a new MS. Fortunately I have great CPs and they made me realize that one person's opinion is just that - an opinion. So here I am, still plugging away at that very same WIP. I'm so glad I listened to my CPs.

Tamika: said...

Opening ourselves up is very difficult, and more so when we are brutally crushed down. A good critique will encourage you as well as challenge you.

Two books later and here you are still keep the dream alive~ good for you!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

I think your right we need to learn to take the criticism and not drown in it, at the same time I think some critiquers need to learn how to critique to be helpful and not harmful.

Patti said...

Dawn: It took me a while to put other people's opinions aside, some days I'm still not there, but I'm getting better.

Piedmont: Well said.

Laura: Even if you don't like something there's always a nice way to say it.

Jessie: I might be past saving when it comes to singing, but I have been looking for a piano for christmas and no your critiques have not made me want to quit, in fact, they want me to write more.

Patti said...

Melissa: Sometimes adults have more effect than they know. I'm sure that lady had no idea how her words affected me.

Heidi: I dance ugly too, but it burns calories so I'm going to keep doing it.

KM: like I said to Melissa I don't people know so that's why we shouldn't let it affect us.

Melissa: Same thing happened to me and it took me a couple of weeks to get over it. Glad to see you decide to keep writing.

Tamika: Opening up is one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Holly: I loved this, we need to learn to take the criticism and not drown in it. thanks

Patti Lacy said...

Love your wisdom, girl.

Sigh. It's all SO SUBJECTIVE.
That's what's hard...but also what makes me write FOR HIM.

and keep on going.

arlee bird said...

Critique is good for us. I think when we are younger we take it the wrong way and see it as a personal attack. If the younger version of us could recognize that criticism is an opporunity to discover where it is we need to improve and work on those areas, we could learn so much more than just shutting down and running away. Even if it is a personal attack we should accept it as a challenge to steel ourselves for the fight to prove our worth.

Maybe instead of overfocussing on self esteem of our kids we should teach them that they are not perfect, how to constructively accept criticism and suggestions, and how to strengthen our resolve to be better.

I wish I'd had more of that when I was growing up. Perhaps I wouldn't have missed out on a lot of opportunities that I could have had that were missed because I was afraid of what people might think or say.

I like what I see here so far and am now a follower of your blog.

Tossing It Out

Candyland said...

Oh no! I've always been super sensitive to crits, so I feel your pain. I'd probably have sang it even louder, though. A rebel. Yeah.

Lynn said...

I know what it is like to be told to 'mouth the words!' I am tone deaf but interestingly, while in my elementary school church choir never did the teacher ask me not to sing! I hope life is full of teachers that let us sing anyways, or write it anyways, even if only one person listens or reads our work. Let us not be so judgemental--instead let us be experiencers!

strugglingwriter said...

Amen to all of that. Don't let The Man get you down. It's difficult advice to follow, however.

Kasie West said...

It's easy to let others discourage us. Especially when we feel self conscious already. But you're so right. We just have to keep trying.

Susan R. Mills said...

So glad you didn't give up on writing. Sad about the music thing though. I had a similar experience.

Jessica Carmen Bell said...

Agreed! I think it also depends on the will of the person. Some people want to prove others' negatvie comments wrong, and therefore continue to work at their craft. Others let critique gobble them up for dinner.

Thanks for dropping by my blog today :o)