For those of you who have followed this email/blog thing from the beginning, you know that I have had quite a long hiatus. After writing a pretty regular email on Sunday nights, I kind of fell off the planet.
Although there were a lot of reasons for that, I have to admit to one that was bigger than I thought…I am pretty sensitive to criticism.
Now, I am not 12 years old, and I have recognized this about myself for a long time. I’ve spoken to therapists about it, put myself in situations where I asked for criticism in the hopes of being able to see it for what it was and that has helped. As the practice has grown, I have been open to much more criticism and frankly I have gotten much better at taking it. Clients have gotten angry with me and had legitimate criticism, and employees have either light heartedly or sometimes angrily pointed out my shortcomings. I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but I am at least a lot better at it than I was as a young adult.
Several years ago as I was writing I got a lot of positive reinforcement from you guys. I say you guys as a slang term, because most of you are women. I have to say it felt really good. I like writing, but I have never (“obviously,” say the real writers reading this) gotten much instruction in it. I took plenty of english and writing up to vet school, but honestly, I was so focused on being a vet I missed an opportunity to get writing skills much past the basics.
So, as I told you in previous emails, I went to a series of writing workshops. They were sponsored (and attended) by people who write/edit/read The Sun magazine. In case you have never heard of it, it has been a favorite of mine because it has meaty, brutally honest stories that pretty much focus on our dysfunction. I remember seeing a Leonard Cohen quote that either was in The Sun, or at least wrapped up the way I thought of the magazine…
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
So the workshops were in rural Massachusetts , and I learned a lot. Several of their amazing writers were there with different exercises. They would read their stuff, I would work on something and I had the option to share it with the group. It was way different from veterinary conferences and I kind of liked it. However, many of the attendees complained about the process of getting published, and several of them seemed quite frantic about their editors. I decided that having my work edited and prepared for publication would be painful. What I like about writing is the honesty and the informality. Its kind of like an open letter to the universe for me.
So, I settled in thinking that it would be fun and I would do it from time to time and just you guys would see it. The “you guys” grew from 200 to almost 2000, and I honestly started thinking OMG, people are reading this. With that realization, came a long pause at the keyboard.
But you guys have been great. I have gotten small tweaks here and there. Like the time I used heartworming instead of heart-warming. Or my tendency to end a sentence with a preposition (I still don’t know why that shouldn’t be a thing)
I decided to work with one of my favorite writers and asked her if she could help me mold some of my writings into something publishable. We worked for weeks on a serious writing piece …the subject matter was about one relationship that wasn’t that great for me in childhood.
By the end I hated the whole thing. The subject matter, the words, the process, even the computer screen seemed to taunt me. For you authors that are reading this, let me give you a moment of recognition. I scratched the surface of being edited and hated it….you do that on everything you write. Wow.
Since I did all that, social media has exploded even more. I tend to get a lot of my entertainment from Facebook rather than reading (or writing) anything more meaty. Although I still subscribe to The Sun, I also subscribe to the BDN, Discover, two spirituality magazines, 3 veterinary journals, Archeology, and two pet magazines. I already told you that I have a guilty pleasure around the gossip magazines, but I leave my reading of those to the dentist’s office.
I know that our lives are changing when it comes to print and stories. We are used to being entertained, especially when it comes to advertising. I laugh at the Geico commercials like everyone does, and they make me smile. But in my busy day to day, I am looking for something a little more thought- provoking.
I am pretty sure I am never going to be a published author. In fact, I am a veterinarian in the middle of Maine and I bet not that many people will hear about this outside of you all.
I’m cool with that.
I found my perfect job anyway, I don’t need another one.
I won’t waste your time. I can’t promise it’ll be weekly, and I might drop off the planet again. But then again, with all this thinkin’ I have been doing lately, this might be one of the top 5 fun things I have done in the past 10 years. The situation with the 10 year anniversary and then Pierre’s tumor was therapeutic for me. Plus, in the Pierre case, I am pretty convinced that the positive vibes/prayers and white light you all sent made a difference in the outcome. He is doing much better thank you.
If you have feedback, give it to me. Despite the way I started this, I can take criticism, especially if it is constructive. Not the kind that people put in the comments section at the bottom of the BDN. What are they called….Trolls?
So especially if you have political criticism, like I touch on one of those Republican/Democrat things…keep it to yourself. I won’t bring up my opinions on the big topics…politics or religion, or sports teams…the stuff we tend to get all tribe-y about. The one disadvantage of social media is its a little too easy to hit send. We end up looking pretty one dimensional if we take our Facebook posts as a guide to who we are.
Not that I don’t love me a good meme every once in awhile.
I loved some of the favorite quotes you posted on Facebookafter last week’s email. Altogether 50 people posted their favorite words to live by.
Now that is heart-warming.
My wife teaches at Husson in the grad school and she tells her students when things get hard and they start to whine that they should “put on their big girl panties”
I was tempted to tell you guys that you shouldn’t worry that I am too sensitive…I can put on my big boy panties too.
The metaphor doesn’t quite work there though.
So, join me on a ride. The responsibilities of running a veterinary practice and seeing patients got to me too much these past couple years. But I am slowly picking away at that as well.
I can’t promise I won’t make you cry….that one gets the most people off the list, but it also gets the most people on. I did get a nasty gram from someone’s husband once when we were placing kittens and I used the email list to do that. Ultimately, I decided to stop using the email for rehoming pets because Facebook is easier to share, and too many people’s friends had animals to place and saying no is not my strong suit (I know that will surprise no one).
One of the things that I know intellectually is that saying no is necessary not only to set up healthy boundaries, but also to prevent resentment. At least that is what my therapist told me. In the office I agreed with her, but then I went home and hated her guts.
Plus, she took one of the kittens, so how is that Ms Boundary pants?
Kidding….she didn’t take a kitten, but I do recognize that I will be growing for many years to come.
Just don’t mark up my stuff with red pen and send it back by snail mail. That will drive me nuts. But if you hit return, I will get it. If it gets too much to respond to, then I won’t complain. I will put on my ….
Have a great week.