Friday, September 4, 2009

We All Got to Learn to Do It Sometime

*grossness alert*


We all have to learn to deal with doo-doo eventually.

Consider me a newbie mom, but it never occurred to me that my son should be wiping himself until about a month before kindergarten. And then the flashbulb went on and I scrambled to teach him.

One problem.

He didn't want to. He's fastidious and doesn't like to make mistakes, so the thought of taking care of this daily chore literally reduced him to screaming and crying on the toilet.

Basically, he didn't trust himself. He was afraid. Scared to get his hands dirty. Afraid he'd miss something.

This is probably weird, but it made me think of us as writers. There comes a point where we have to "grow up" and trust ourselves.

We can't always rely on a crit group, agent, or editor to wipe up our mess.

I think this should be a part of maturation for every writer, that we can look at our work and be confident in our ability to clean it up. Not saying we'll make it perfect or that we won't miss something, or even worse, that we'll create a mess and spread the crap farther than it needs to go.

Just saying this is a part of growing up. As a writer and as a person.

In life, have you ever tried to clean up a mess and made it worse? Have you ever, trembling, stepped forward and made things better?
Do you think any writer can ever get to that place of confidence? Do you think there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance?

80 comments:

Wend's Place said...

Great insight how daring!

Many times have I made things worse by trying to be something I'm not or by doing something I am not. I don't try to clean up mess anymore!

Just being me and trusting life.

Jessica said...

Thank you for stopping by!
I agree, sometimes we have to let things sort themself out. :-)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

This is a great post! I love it when one of my blogger friends posts something I can relate to!! I probably could write a book of answers to your questions!

One of my problems is fo me to shut up, listen and ask myself, "What would you want someone to say/do in this situation?", instead of jumping right in and blabbing all over! When I take a deep breath and wait on the Lord for direction, then things are so much better. At those times He can help me clean up my mess or help me clean up someone else's.

Oh the wonderful lessons are children teach us! Keep them coming!

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh, how funny, Jessica! I have one child who doesn't want to clean his own mess either and is relying on me far too long!

Sometimes writers can rely too much on others and not do their own editing as thoroughly as they should. Great point!!

sherrinda said...

Awesome post! Hilarious!!! I have to say that as I am just entering into the world of editing, I am like your child....whining and scared to death that I will miss something and make a mess of things. I hope to someday be confident, but I know that will come with time and practice.

BTW...a couple of days ago, I had to get on the walkie talkie at work and announce to the janitor (and all other staff) that a student had tracked dog poop all the way down the 3rd hall!!! I struggled with what to call it and ended up saying dog feces! The custodian did not understand me and I had to explain in depth....sigh...it was really funny though. :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

This made me smile to read. I'm not sure why, but I was convinced once my kids learned to go on the potty wiping would go smoothly. Needless to say this was not always the case. Like the tie in you made. :D
~ Wendy

MeganRebekah said...

Too funny! Made me laugh as I read it. I don't have kids, but I still remember my younger brothers yelling for my parents from the toilet - "Dad, come wipe my butt!"

Victoria Dixon said...

Oh yes! About five years ago, I had concluded that a mock battle scene of mine - in about chapter 5 - needed to go because it just delayed getting to the good stuff later on. Alas, my critique group had me put it all back in. I SO get why now! The first part of my book DOES need trimming, but not in an action scene! LOL. I tend to do introspection to a fault and that's what I have to trim now. Still. Again. Fortunately, I never delete scenes. I put them in a "misc" file for future use. That time, the future was close at hand. :)
Good question, btw.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I laughed my way through this post Jessica, just couldn't get the visual out of my head.

Fine line between confidence and arrogance? I think it's all in how you present that confidence. If it's humbly presented then it doesn't come across as arrogant, but that's an art in itself I believe! Not one I've learned so I go for the low-confidence self usually, though I know that's not what God wants. Great! Yet another thing to work on. Thanks Jessica!! LOL

Jessica said...

Hey Donna.
:-) Sometimes I blab too when I need to just close my mouth. :-) Great advice for us to listen to God!

Jessica said...

LOL Jody!!!
And the one who wants to do it is only three, so I'm telling one to do it and one to NOT do it. Heehee! I imagine you go through the same thing. LOL

Jessica said...

LOL Sherrinda! It'll all work out for you. :-)

You cracked me up with your story! Thank you for sharing that. What an awkward situation. Poor you. :-)

Jessica said...

Thanks Wendy.
Isn't it funny how kids wrinkle life up? LOL Everything is an adventure with them.

Jessica said...

That's pretty much the deal Megan! LOL At least you're prepared, right? :-)

Jessica said...

Hi Victoria,
You're smart to save stuff. :-) I try to, but then I forget where I put it. LOL
Also, very true about introspection. I think most of us tend to do that and we need to be careful. Go you for listening to your crit buddies. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Eileen! I'm working on it too. Like you I'd rather be too self-effacing than too cocky. *shudder* But still, sometimes I really stick my foot in my mouth.
I bet God has some fun molding us.

Stina Rose said...

Interesting comparison. I'm going to have to think on this one. hmmm...

Jessica said...

LOL Stina. Don't think too hard.

Linda Kage said...

Nice analogy. And so apt.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

Honestly...I'm faced with potty-training my daughter here shortly. (should have been a while ago...but I'm hoping for motivation) and I can't imagine how it's all going to go. right now, she's just sitting down on the baby potty when i sit on the big potty. i guess it's a step in the right direction. :)

jeannie
Where Romance Meets Therapy

Jessica said...

Hey Jeannie,
I'm on my third kid and it sounds like you're going in the right direction. :-) It'll come, don't worry. :-) I think the biggest thing (for me) is to encourage them but not force them, which I'm sure you wouldn't do anyways.
Too cute of a story! :-)

Janna Qualman said...

Not weird or gross, brilliant and insightful! Great post, Jessica.

I think it's absolutely true.

And I'm struggling with the same thing with my 4 y/o, who has to have it mastered by Weds and the start of preschool.

Cindy said...

My oldest daughter relied on me right up until Kindergarten as well.

I think as writer's we do need to find that confidence within ourselves to trust that we can do some things on our own. But as of yet, I haven't found any reason to think a critique group--even just for general feedback--wouldn't be beneficial. It doesn't mean you don't have the confidence to do it on your own, just that you want it to be your best and you're willing to listen to feedback. Besides, writing is largely about pleasing the audience. Feedback before it reaches that audiences is so valuable.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Okay, so sometimes I might "LOL" a post, but rarely do I ever laugh out loud. You made me literally laugh out loud. This is hilarious. You are so right though about cleaning up our own crap. I know there is a point we have to hand our baby out and let it be subjected to opinions of the the betas, but we have to clean it up as much as we can.

And, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I hope that every reader who hands their MS to a beta is confident that it is great, but if they are arrogant they won't listen to anything anyone else says to improve it.

And I wouldn't have thought about the whole wiping himself thing, either. My son is still working on making it to the toilet at all.

T. Anne said...

That's how we learn. First we make a huge mess then we learn from it. Lord knows that's how I learned to write! *You're such a sweet mom! I have news for you, almost the entire Kindergarten class doesn't know how to do this task yet. (Bring extra pants).

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Ha, Jessica! This is awesome!

I've had to learn to be okay with making mistakes. That's how I learn best. However, that doesn't mean I don't do everything I can to make sure my stories are perfect from the outset.

Have a great weekend!

Jeanette Levellie said...

So cute, Jessica! I hope he's okay now.

I love this analogy. Yes, we can learn to trust our abilities and the voice of God within our hearts, if we are listening to Him and staying connected by His Word.

I think it's okay to say "I'm a good writer." God gave us this gift; we shouldn't dis it.

Jessica said...

Oh Janna, can I copy and paste your "brilliant and insightful" to my brain? LOL
Wow, is it an all day pre-k for your daughter? (your four year old is a girl, right? lol, I can't remember) That stinks. *crossing my fingers for you and her* :-)

Jessica said...

Hi Cindy,
Oh, I def. agree. I'm pretty sure I'll have a crit group or a crit partner my entire career (ahem, once I get the career, *snort*). They're completely necessary. Sorry if I implied otherwise. :-)
I'm glad I'm not the only mom still sporadically wiping her kid. LOL

Jessica said...

Hey Jessie,
Glad I could make you laugh. LOL I just thought of this yesterday and I was like, hmm, it might make a good post. Snort!
Your little guy has time. Boys take a while too.

Jessica said...

Wow T.Anne! That was news. LOL No, seriously, I did NOT know so many other kids this age were getting wiped. It makes me feel better. :-)
And you're right. We do learn from our messes.
Hopefully. LOL

Jessica said...

Hi Jen,
I think it's okay to say that too. It feels weird, but I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge something that God gave us and that we've worked on. :-)
My son is adjusting to how things have to be. LOL I'm still helping him but he's definitely gaining more confidence about it.

Debra E Marvin said...

A true writer finds insight into her craft while doo-dooing the strangest things.

quixotic said...

That is such a great analogy!! I'm dying of laughter. My Daughter is the opposite. I have to constantly check up behind her because she does not pay enough attention when she wipes.

quixotic said...

That is such a great analogy!! I'm dying of laughter. My Daughter is the opposite. I have to constantly check up behind her because she does not pay enough attention when she wipes.

Dara said...

I'm always petrified about messing up. I hate when I make mistakes--I get so frustrated with myself. I had a bit of a perfectionist tendency in grade school and the teachers used to remark about that...some of that I think has carried on to adulthood :P

Sometimes I'm confident with my writing and other times I'm not. I think there's a point where we have to be confident but be open minded in the sense that if we do mess up, it's not the end of the world. We need to be confident yet be open to learning. Even the most experienced writes need to keep learning.

It's hard to find that balance though. I think it's something I always struggle with.

ElanaJ said...

I have made a mess of things. I have stepped forward and tried to clean it up. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

In writing, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. The point is to TRY.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post! I made the break from critique group years ago. It was scary. It was hard. Sometimes I want to go back-lol. But it's also good to know you can do it on your own. Even if you mess up. Well, no ones perfect. lol

Jessica said...

Ha Debra! LOL

Jessica said...

Oh yuck Katie! LOL My middle son, the three year old, is like that. Good luck with your daughter! :-)

Jessica said...

Dara,
Great comment! You're so right, we should never be afraid of learning. And don't worry, I think all writers have very unconfident days. :-) I know I sure swing back and forth. Snort!

It's hard being a perfectionist. But sometimes it's helpful, esp. when you surpass your own goals like you did. LOL

Jessica said...

Exactly Elana! YOu said it so much shorter than I did. Love it!

Jessica said...

True Nancy. :-) I think if I made a break from a crit group, I'd still want a crit partner. But I suppose, in a sense, your editor has taken that place?

Marybeth Poppins said...

And you tried to tell me you weren't funny ;)

Stephanie Faris said...

Well put. Only I will look through my work and think I'm being really honest with myself, only to find that some outside party sees things I never saw.

Beth said...

Jeanette Levellie pointed me to your blog today, because I wrote about poop too! :) Glad she did, because I really enjoyed reading here.

I'm in the same boat, because my 4 year old does NOT want to learn to wipe for the very same reasons. If you figure it out, I'd appreciate some tips!

Have a great weekend!

Kara said...

Jessica I am laughing so hard. I can totally relate to this!

My problem is to just relax and trust my instincts and not do so much second guessing!

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessica, I'm glad I wasn't sipping my iced tea when I read your post or my sleek aluminum keyboard would have been drenched. Rarely do I laugh when I read blogs. It's even rarer when I chortle. You, my dear, brought about an unladylike guffaw.

You also transported me back in time. My DD is heading to college two weeks from now, and I'm preparing myself for the transition to an empty nest. You brought back memories of earlier times when I was one of the moms discussing such topics with my friends. :)

Just today on my walk to mail a contest entry, I thought about the fact that I'd made some changes to the entry and sent it off without letting anyone see it first. I guess after three and a half years, I'm finally beginning to trust myself to do my own dirty work and whip my manuscript into shape. Not that I'm going to fire my awesome CP. But it is nice to gain some independence.

Sarah Dawn said...

Seriously, we had the same problem. Now I just smile and realize it's something we all have to do. Just never thought God would teach me something about myself. Not really a writer, but I have made messes and thankful that forgiveness makes the best toilet paper.

Blessings from the rain,
Sarah Dawn

Sarah Dawn said...

Seriously, we had the same problem. Now I just smile and realize it's something we all have to do. Just never thought God would teach me something about myself. Not really a writer, but I have made messes and thankful that forgiveness makes the best toilet paper.

Blessings from the rain,
Sarah Dawn

Sarah Dawn said...

Seriously, we had the same problem. Now I just smile and realize it's something we all have to do. Just never thought God would teach me something about myself. Not really a writer, but I have made messes and thankful that forgiveness makes the best toilet paper.

Blessings from the rain,
Sarah Dawn

Sarah Dawn said...

Seriously, we had the same problem. Now I just smile and realize it's something we all have to do. Just never thought God would teach me something about myself. Not really a writer, but I have made messes and thankful that forgiveness makes the best toilet paper.

Blessings from the rain,
Sarah Dawn

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL What a description! Made me think of my grandson--better tell my daughter to work on it soon as he learns!
I like that eventually we need to fix things ourselves--cause if it turns out alright--we do gain confidence!

Weronika Janczuk said...

I definitely like this insight. Thank you for sharing. : )

Katie Ganshert said...

Oh my goodness...rolling on the floor with this line, right here, "even worse, that we'll create a mess and spread the crap farther than it needs to go."

What an interesting analogy, Jessica. I loved it. And I have both made things worse and better in my ventures to "wipe my own hiney."(figuratively, of course. In the literal sense, I have no problems with this.)

Helen Ginger said...

Fun post. Yes, we writers have to learn to clean our own poop. And make sure critique partners don't add poop of their own. As they say, poop happens.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

For future reference, I'd cause this post to self destruct before your little guy learns to read. LOL!

I think we all need help from time to time. However, if we're still agonizing over the same problems after five years, maybe a look at our confidence level is necessary.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen said...

Great post! My critique group can hand me all the toilet paper in the world, but only I know when I feel squeaky clean. :)

Jessica said...

LOL Mary Beth, I'm not. My son did this, I'm just passing the info along. :-)

Jessica said...

Hey Stephanie. Very true. ;-)

Jessica said...

Uh-oh Beth. LOL I'm going to have to pop on over to your place!
The thing that seems to be working for us is telling him he'll wash his hands afterwards, so it's okay if they get dirty, and also that mommy will check him if he wants. That seems to help, but he still tries to get me to do the wiping first. LOL

Jessica said...

Hi Kara,
You're right. I think trusting our instincts (after we've learned some craft) is huge.

Jessica said...

First Keli,
Wow. I can't believe I made you guffaw. *happy blush* That's pretty cool.
Second, I can't believe you mailed it off without second eyes! That was very brave but I think for where you're at in your writing, completely acceptable and an example of your maturity. Sometimes we don't have time to let someone else look it over and we have to do our best and trust ourselves. Congrats to you! :-)

Jessica said...

Sarah I really like that quote.
"Forgiveness makes the best toilet paper."

Very, very true. :-)

Jessica said...

That's true Terri, and confidence is a wonderful thing. :-)

Jessica said...

Hahaa, now you made me laugh Katie! LOL Glad to hear you don't have problems in this area. Snort!!

Jessica said...

Helen,
Wasn't that Forrest Gump, with a different word? LOL! Great point about the crit buds. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Susan,
I thought about that because his teacher has a blog and I didn't want to embarrass him in front of the teacher. But I'm pretty sure he doesn't read mine *crossing fingers*
You're right about agonizing over the same things. Very good point.

Jessica said...

LOL Karen. Very well said!

And I meant to tell all of you thank you for commenting! Esp. some of you whom I've never "seen" before.
I appreciate your thoughts. :-)

Nancy said...

Once I put a nail print on a newly painted door. Then I tried to touch it up with paint. By the time I was done,a 4x6" blotch of missmatched paint screamed out where a tiny nail print had been. The whole door needed repainting.
Moral: leave wet paint alone or don't make big messed out of tiny ones.

Warren Baldwin said...

Anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly. If we wait for perfection, it will never get done. Good point here.

Jessica said...

Hey Warren, very true. Imperfect doesn't necessarily mean bad, right? :-)

Jessica said...

Oooh Nancy, LOL, great story and great moral! Thank you. :-)

Pen Pen said...

Well- I think we can clean up our work if we can look at it from the outside and try to pretend to be a reader-but that can be hard.
For me, the BIGGEST problem is grammar. It's a SHOCKING problem with me. I've worked to learn it for so long, but I can't seem to apply it-I hate that about my writing. I always have to have my bf edit my stuff for grammar. I even had a writing professor say to me once that I'm lucky my story telling skills are as keen as they are, because they are the only things that deflect readers from my horrific grammar. Sometimes, I want to write a certain sentence, but just don't know how to do it structurally-so I change the sentence.
I bought a grammar workbook not long ago, and I'm embarrassed to work in it. I should tho-It's a problem that will slow me in the writing world.UGh! I need a private tutor!! my bf tries(in good will) to correct my grammar-I asked him to do it, but I get snippy with him when he does it-maybe that's just cuz he's my bf. :)
AND- I have no kiddos yet--Do they not wipe usually when they're just learning to potty train? When do they start that? Interesting factoid I had no idea about!

Deb Shucka said...

Great metaphor. I think confidence comes from practice and positive experiences. I think arrogance comes from a total lack of confidence that prevents real relationships and creates a false front.

I hope the wiping issue resolves soon.

Jessica said...

LOL Pen Pen,
No, as far as I know they don't wipe right away. We're lucky if the boys can aim it in the toilet. LOL!

Interesting fact about the grammar. That would be super annoying! I kind of hear you, because I'm really, really bad at commas. Like, I've tried to read how to use them but it's so hard to apply. But if you have good storytelling, that's awesome! :-) Grammar can be fixed very easily, and there's always the copy edit!

Jessica said...

Thanks Deb. It's resolving, somewhat. LOL

I think I agree with you. I'd heard somewhere that arrogance is actually a form of insecurity. I think there's some truth to that.

Christina Berry said...

Jessica, you know what's going on right now with my book release, so I don't have time to read all 77(!) comments--I shouldn't even be reading this post!--but I must say this is the weirdest/yuckiest/funniest post I've ever read!! Great job!

Irritable Mother said...

LOL!
I am almost laughing too hard to seriously consider your questions. *grin*
That said, I agree with your analogy. It's good to take responsibility and clean up our messes. Even if it's a little unpleasant.

Love you!

Jessica said...

LOL Thanks Christina. :-)

Karen, I'm glad it made you laugh. :-)