In the last two weeks, KRH has discovered walking. He’s been a bit of a slow developer when it comes to physical skills, preferring to sit back and watch others before he tries something. He didn’t start to crawl until he was nearly a year old, and he seemed to be slow to try to walk compared to his daycare friends. Still, about a week ago, he decided it was time, and now he walks quite confidently, and takes just about any opportunity to practice.
Observing his explosion of skill got me thinking about the value of learning and how it’s often an uneven process. I’m in a manuscript workshop class right now, and recently it was my turn to have my novel critiqued.
It was an… interesting process. In my past works, I’ve had some feedback before I turned it over to beta readers, but not for this one. Furthermore, rather than a chapter-by-chapter reading, this got turned over to 7 other readers, in all it’s glory (or lack thereof), who read the whole thing and spent two hours offering me their thoughts. And although there was a good amount of positive stuff, there was about as much constructive feedback as you’d expect for a 3rd draft. And for a while, it was hard not to be discouraged. And indeed, for a few days I was. I knew how to fix some of the problems, but others I didn’t, especially the ones I’d come to the class specifically to work on.
That, in turn, got me thinking about a tweet I’d seen. I spent at least ten minutes searching twitter so I could share it with you.
My cousin @Megzilla87 shared this chart with me. By Shattered Earth on Deviant Art. It can easily stand in for the writing process.
Right now I am firmly entrenched in the last loop. And I seem to have skipped the middle loop entirely.#amwriting #amediting pic.twitter.com/ISZ9R8USUx
— Dale R Long (@DaleRLong67) February 12, 2018
I suspect I’m at a “perceived lack of skill” stage, but this is more a point about learning and advancing. Ideally, this should be our process for pretty much every skill, but of course we don’t have the time or effort to consider practicing everything in the meaningful, developmental way that’s needed to progress your skill.
KRH, meanwhile, don’t really think about progress or advancement yet. He’s busy moving through the skills most of us will develop through our life, at the pace he feels comfortable at. At some point, he’ll develop the ability to consider his failures, which will hopefully give him the ability to learn from them. Then, he’ll have to learn how to keep going, even when he’s discouraged.
I do have those skills. So even when I don’t get get the glowing feedback I’d prefer, I have to get back to work. Because that’s the only way to get better, and getting better is the only way I’ll get to that next step. So, onward.