Being a writer is tough. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be, but there are some days when I want to crawl under the covers and hide from my editors. I try to be tough, I am a natural born people pleaser and as much as I wish I could change that part of myself, and not care what others (my editors) thought, I can’t. So my goal for 2012 is to accept my sensitive side.
I turned in a story this week that was totally off. It took me back to 7th grade when I stood at the front of the classroom giving my oral report on the capital of Virginia and my teacher said, “what are you doing?” The room went dead quiet. “Reading my report about Richmond,” I said. “Well you’ve done it all wrong,” she said. I was humiliated. I can’t remember now what I’d done wrong, maybe it was supposed to be modern day Richmond and I’d done the historical version, but nonetheless, I stood there at the front of the room devastated. That’s how I felt yesterday. I don’t like to be wrong, I don’t like to have screwed up, I don’t like to make mistakes. I wanted to cry but I also wanted to tell myself to toughen up! Editors edit, that’s what they do and writers write and rewrite, right? But sometimes it’s so hard to listen to the feedback, to shake it off and keep going. Sometimes I wish I were less sensitive.
I was up all night thinking about how I could have done this assignment different. When I woke up I was short with my kids, hurrying them through the breakfast routine and rushing them off to school. “Sorry guys, I’m in a bad mood because my editor didn’t like my story,” I said. “Oh that’s too bad Mom!” they said and I shrugged. “I just need to toughen up!” I said. Then My 7 year old needed help because he was supposed to dress up “tacky.” (They’ve been reading Tacky the Penguin.) He didn’t know what tacky was, and of course we’d waited until the last minute to prepare, and frustrated, I told him that tacky was subjective and to just find something already! Ugh! Get dressed! What’s the big deal?!
He retreated to his room in tears (my boys who rarely cries but is sensitive all the same), and I took a deep breath. I went after him and we sat on his bed and he told me that he didn’t want to wear the wrong thing. He didn’t want his teacher to get mad at him. It was a big deal for him, and here I was trying to make him toughen up. I apologized and we found him something to wear and I sent him off to school hoping his teacher wouldn’t make him feel like my 7th grade teacher made me feel. And then I realized we are the only ones who can “make ourselves feel a certain way. Editors will always offer feedback and suggestions, that’s their job. If I feel stupid, that’s my own doing. It’s my job to accept my sensitive nature, and not beat myself up when I don’t get it right. It’s okay to be sensitive. I think I just need to learn how to give myself approval instead of seeking it from others, and model that for my kids.
Being a writer is tough, but it’s also the best job in the world.