Thursday, January 6, 2011

Firm Up Your Commitments

Thursday, January 6—Firm Up Your Commitments

Nothing makes me work harder than having people who know what I’m supposed to be doing.

Sharon Waite is one of my best teacher friends. She has a head full of curly red locks. Her British accent causes kids in the inner city school where she teaches to stop and listen. Usually they’re asking, “What did she say?” But it works. Sharon is now an assistant principal. But she hasn’t gone totally over to the dark side yet! We talk, email, or text about every day (sometimes multiple times of day if we’re really cussing or discussing some particular subject).

Sharon usually knows my writing plans. I usual spill them in some email or rambling conversation. She’ll celebrate my successes and wonder at the ignorance of those who reject my writing. From time to time, Sharon will also say things like: “How’s that pirate story going?” or “You haven’t sent me a story to read lately, whatzup with that?” She gently prods me to keep going.

Another thing that makes me work harder is a challenge.

I’ve mentioned Joyce Sweeney in a previous post. Author, poet, author’s friend, mentor, teacher—Joyce is all those things. Joyce has given me many positive comments and pats on the back. (She does it for everyone, but means it the most when she does it more me!) Those comments are a challenge for me. Joyce is saying, “Look what you can do! Way to go! Now do some more!” She’ll also be honest. My critiques from her have ranged from marketable, love it, needs some work all the way to this doesn’t work for me, it’s not ready, are you kidding me?
Lisa Wheeler challenges me like that, too. When she suggests that I rethink a scene, a character, a plot, or whether to use rhyme or not she is throwing down a challenge. Yes, a writing throw down!

I usually have to hear things more than once to get it. It’s not that I’m lacking the intelligence to understand the first time I’m told something, but I’m stubborn. When one person in my critique group says something about a piece I’m working on it’s easy for me think, What does she know? But when two or three people say the same thing I have to stop and listen. When people in multiple critique groups spread across the country start saying the same thing, even I can’t believe it’s a coincidence or a conspiracy.

As you’re setting your goals and working your way to your dreams, who knows what you should be up to? Who challenges you? Who is seeing your writing (and your goals and dreams) and can tell you over and over what you need to hear?

It’s Your Turn!
1.     Share your dreams and goals with someone you trust.
2.     Keep your eyes open for someone who could become your mentor.
3.     Find a critique group to give you honest feedback or renew your commitment to the critique group to which you belong.


Unknown said...

Ahhhhhh! I'm in your blog! So proud! This blog is fab - I wrote my goals you know - perhaps I will share with you later! :-)

Rob Sanders said...

Ms. Waite, you ALWAYS write your goals. You inspire me!