Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Slice of Life-Sometimes compliments are hard

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

Sometimes it is so hard to respond to a compliment. "I love having you in here," the teacher said. "I learn so much." Even as I write this, I feel uncomfortable and awkward. It's so much easier to hear criticism than compliments.  She probably doesn't realize how emotional I was at the time--I actually had could have gotten teary if I'd given myself permission. Maybe because as a coach, I don't always hear gratitude. Maybe because as a parent, I don't always hear appreciation. Maybe because as a person, I am much more programmed for striving than for celebrating. I'm really not so great at receiving compliments.  

At first, I struggled through that moment of silence and not knowing what to say. Then, I thought about how one of my mentors responds when I express my appreciation and admiration of her work. She is gracious. She says thank you.

"Thank you for saying that," I said. "It really means a lot."

Our conversation segued into the productive work the students were  doing as they read each other's work, providing feedback and looking for ways to improve their own writing. 

As I reflect on the moment, a sliver of my day, the importance of it strikes me. Yes, it is really hard to respond to a compliment, but really important also.  

Happy Slicing,

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Slice 27 of 31-#sol17: Please give me more than pretty sound

This is the 10th year that Two Writing Teachers has hosted the Slice of Life Challenge. Day 27 of this 31 day writing challenge!


I'd mailed my critical thesis--all 35 pages of it--ten days ago. The insecure part of me was really ready to hear if it made sense, if the ideas were good, how much more work I'd have to do in order to produce an original thesis on the role a setting can play within middle grade fiction. The Type A part of me wanted to hear my work was on a "this will be great" path...hard to admit, but I have that tendency. 

My critique finally arrived at 7 tonight. Here's how it started:
Okay, so now I have the entire rough draft in front of me. The good news is the overall shape is there. Structurally it's pretty sound. I found as I read through this twice over vacation that my focus for revision is more so on a line basis, as it will be with the next packet in which I line edit the hardcopy from start to finish.
Really? The overall shape? Really??? It's pretty sound??? I have to say that I had a hard time translating pretty sound. When I emailed him and asked about how to interpret that phrase, he responded that "pretty sound" is actually high phrase. I guess I missed that translation on the first go-round. 

He sent 21 pages with sentence suggestions and tweaks. Every once in a while, I got a solid or a good. Once or twice there might have been a great. Does it sound super insecure to admit how much those tidbits of compliments meant to me?

I believe in myself as a writer. I really do know that my paper is okay. Maybe even more than pretty sound. That being said, mental note to self: writers need compliments. We need reactions. We need to know when our writing resonates, whether we are five, fifty, or a hundred. 

Today I will comment on writing. I will also teach students, conferring and talking to them about their works in progress. I will not say anything is pretty sound. That's pretty--I don't know--pretty something. 

Happy Slicing,