Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lessons learned (in a bunch of bars!)

It snowed this weekend! Not typical weather for October in Cambridge. Even THAT DOG looked at me this morning with a, Surely, you're kidding expression when her paws sunk down into the slushy mush that was all over the yard. Church was canceled due to downed power lines the next town over, so we had an unexpected, fab day of lounging on the couch, reading, and watching TV.

We spent the later part of the afternoon watching a marathon of a show I'd never seen before called Bar Rescue. Oh, how I LOVE this show! An expert comes into a failing bar and works with the owner & staff to turn things around. It's an amazing example of the power of business savvy & being teachable.

We all get into ruts in life where we don't see what we're doing that holds us back. This show illustrates the power of having outside expert eyes coming into help. It's just like working with an editor, or a nutritionist, or Stacy & Clinton on What Not To Wear. Our human tendency is to defend what we've always done, justifying the status quo. If we give into that base instinct, we miss out and we don't grow. But if we can squelch our ego for just a few minutes, LISTEN and LEARN, it can change the course of everything we do from that moment on.

This happened for me in the editing of my first book. When my contract deadline came, I was confident that what I handed my editor was the (brilliant, genius) best I could do. Then... my editor SCHOOLED me on literary structure, showing me how to take the lump of raw, doughy story I'd handed her and shape it into a fully baked narrative. I could have balked, and fought, and remained stubbornly certain of how perfectly I'd captured every moment. But I didn't. I listened, revised/rewrote almost every page, and drafted a couple of entirely new chapters. It was hard work, and demoralizing at first. I didn't have it going on nearly as much as I'd thought. But...

I've been thankful ever since that I sucked it up, listened, learned, and put in the effort to change. The book is SO much better...and now I understand writing in an entirely different way. A worthwhile squelching of my ego :)

Have you ever had this happen?

3 comments:

Sarakastic said...

I was watching this show too today and there was a line like "You can hold onto what you know but it's what is causing you to fail"

Julia Maranan said...

When I started as an assistant editor at Natural Health magazine, one of the senior editors reviewed everything I wrote, and although she was kind and constructive, it was totally demoralizing to see that in almost every case, there was--if I was lucky--maybe one sentence in each article that she didn't touch. But I sucked it up and tried to see the reasoning behind the changes she made, and gradually she let more and more of my writing stand. Several months in to this job, thanks to her, I actually won an award for an article on women's health that I had slaved over. Totally worth it!

Elizabeth@LongToLove said...

LISTEN & LEARN...so good, but so hard for a control freak like me. Thanks for an encouraging reminder!