Friday, June 17, 2011

Learn the Right Lesson

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is within it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more."
~ Mark Twain 



Okay, re-read that. You know you want to. Mark Twain is one of my English teacher literary heroes. The great debate rages about which is the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Grapes of Wrath or Huckleberry Finn? Well, anything by Twain will always get my vote. The man was a genius.

So how does this particular Mark Twain quote apply to you? Well, we are always learning as writers, oftentimes because we got "burned" somehow: stinging critiques, painful rejections, blistering criticisms . . . okay, fine. There are lessons within that pain.

What we need to be careful of, though, is letting those moments scare us away from trying again. My father-in-law is an AMAZING writer--seriously amazing. But he let a mentor's constructive criticism freeze him. He never writes anymore. He decided he wasn't good enough, so why bother trying? He walked away from something he loved to avoid the burn. That is NOT okay.

Learn from the process--good and bad--and then try again. And again. And again.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!
 

28 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. The hard critiques hurt but you have to pick yourself up again and go on. And usually there is something to be learned from the hard critiques when you step back from it.

Laura Pauling said...

We will always get that one R from an agent we felt more hope for or really liked. Or feel flattened after an esp. tough critique. I've been there. I'm learning not to let it bother me as much but it doesn't make it any easier!

Heather Sunseri said...

I love that quote. When I reread it, I found myself thankful that I'm mostly smarter than a cat. I'll try to remind myself the hard lesson might not burn every single time.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've seen how those rejections and hard crits have motivated me to challenge my writing. I don't mind the burn. ;)

Miranda Hardy said...

Love that quote! I've learned and will keep learning.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

Totally off topic, I never understood why people let their cats climb on their counters or stove, um cats use the litter box. Eww

Now on to topic...If writing is your passion I could only imagine the difficulties. Criticism is hard no matter what form but passion should always be stronger. Have you tried to get your FIL's passion back?

Laura Marcella said...

I prefer Twain's novels to Steinbeck's too!

Love your encouraging posts, Shannon. Just what I needed to hear today!

Have a happy weekend!

Katie Ganshert said...

Oh my goodness - I love that quote! I went to Mark Twain Elementary School. :) What an encouraging, encouraging post this is! And a great reminder to keep going, to take risks, that anything worth doing is usually hard.

Old Kitty said...

Mrs O!! You are wise and just wonderful!! Thank you for such stirring words of wisdom! Take care
x

gilliadstern said...

Great quote and post. Sometimes it is easy to forget how tough a skin we need to be in this industry. Thanks for the great words!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

That's GREAT advice.

I had a cat once that would wait till I turn around (during cooking) and eat out of pans. Blech! ;)

Julie Dao said...

I LOVE this advice. Lots of wisdom in this post - thank you for sharing, Shannon. I always feel more confident after visiting your blog!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome advice! Getting burned is never fun but you can NEVER succeed if you don't try. And I wanna succeed.

Heather said...

If we truly, truly love it, we must never give up. The road to publication may well be one of the hardest roads I have ever traveled. I've stumbled, been shoved, knocked down, and crawled across what felt like hot coals. But always we have to keep moving forward.

Candice said...

Mark Twain will always get my vote too!! I actually love Tom Sawyer the best, but I have his complete works downloaded on my Nook. He was amazing. And I think I've been burned many a time, but it has definitely taught me so much!

Kristin said...

*Great* quote! Thank you for passing it along. Just the kick in the pants I needed today. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Great quote and great post. I needed this today!

Robyn Campbell said...

Sweet post, soldier. *wink*

When I first started writing, I thought NO ONE, NO WAY, could write better than that. Oh boy! I was a dummy. The first crits flowed in. Ouchie. So, we are always learning. Geez, why couldn't it be just a tad easier? Huh? Super quote from a super writer.

Happy Father's Day to your hubby, bff. (((hugs)))

Meredith said...

So, so true! I'm learning to grow a thick skin and learn to be thankful for critiques, but it's a hard process!

Emily Rittel-King said...

Not writing would be worse than not breathing for me, so I have no choice but to keep going and keep growing. I haven't regretted the choice yet!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great quote!

I hadn't thought of this before - but I think I kind of do this. Hmmm... going to have to think on this for a bit and figure out how to fix it!

Theres just life said...

I have always loved Mark Twain. We need to be like Thomas Edison, he just kept going until he got it right.

Pamela Jo

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Shannon, you always come up with the great analogies. I hope your father-in-law finds his way back into writing. Perhaps, through you, he will. If not, you've inspired enough of us to make up for that, but it is a loss, I'll agree, when a writer freezes up and withers away. I would say my father is among those great writers who have done as much.

Rosalind Adam said...

I've just been tagged by Jemi and have arrived here for a browse. Great advice but sorry to hear about your father-in-law's response. Criticism is sometimes harder to take than other times. You have to be in a pretty strong place inside yourself to cope with it... Love the expression on that cat's face!

Stephen Tremp said...

I love criticism. I ignore the hostile stuff but accept the constuctive criticism as it only makes me a better writer. Great post today!

Lynn said...

So true! So much in life can 'burn' but it is important to not let the hurts stop us.

Medeia Sharif said...

Great quote. We need to develop a thick skin and move on, or we'll never know what we could have achieved.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Kari Marie said...

This is a wonderful quote - and true for life as well as writing. Thanks for the inspiration.

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