Writing this particular blog has been particularly difficult. I’ve spent days trying to think of a topic appropriate for the season—you know, the colors and crispness of fall or the spooky traditions of Halloween and how our beloved but cursed Rosa would feel about such things. Or, the joy of pretending fear when faced with the scary faces of toddler zombies and vampires loudly proclaiming “Trick or Treat”!
Nah! Nothing exciting there for a blog mostly read by authors. At least not from me. The subject which has wanted out of me is the fragility of writers and how we must develop thick skins and just keep on keepin’ on. Some of us have thinner skin to begin with or maybe it’s just that we have never learned to take it on the chin when bad news or bad things come along. I can’t tell anyone how to develop a thick skin. There is no such thing as a “thick skin” vitamin or medication or lotion.
When I worked as a nurse I had to have a thick skin. If I hadn’t I would never have made it around physicians or other nurses. Nursing is a stressful job. Many of the players are self-centered. Most medical care professionals have a resilient layer of caring skin beneath the more visible veneer of thick skin. I’m gaining another layer of thicker skin cell by cell but I do not want to lose the layers that make my true personality evident to others. I am not a thick skinned, tough girl.
I had an “incident” happen to me that I’ve not told anybody about. Nobody! Not family, not friends, and certainly no one in my circle of writer friends. The comment in a nutshell was this—“if you have a contract and your editor has had to send your manuscript back to you for changes more than two times then you might as well break your contract because you don’t have a good book and you are not a writer.” This advice came from a published but not well known author on one of the online loops I belong to. If my editor, who is very sweet, reads this post it will be the first time even she will have heard of this trial on my publication path. My thin skin tore and has required several sutures since I read this bit of advice. Was it well meant? Was it hateful? Was it something the person had been told by someone else? Who knows?
Recently one of our Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll authors received a low “starred” review after receiving several four and five star reviews. It devastated her. She turned to her group and received some of the most compassionate and “let ‘em go to hell” words of advice from them I’ve ever heard. Basically, they all said we all get high and low reviews. Remember that every reader reads the same words through different eyes and different lifestyles.
I wonder how I will respond when I’m in a position to receive reviews. I hope I’m gracious.
So, let’s talk skin . . . may we all develop the “thick skin” we need to work in a profession like any other that contains others who can be cruel and unnecessarily competitive. May we all develop the tough skin necessary to let barbs slide off and the soft skin of compassion to be able to be supportive and caring. Most importantly, may we be careful of the words we write or speak and the impact they might have on others yet be truthful. Writing is often a lonely world. We, maybe I should just say I, have to be willing to spend a moment to be available to send a note of praise to our friends.