Today, while on a coffee break with my gaggle of Red Cross guys, a friend told me that he had dabbled in writing stories, after a vignette he'd written at school received an award. His mother though was skeptical, and when she went to read it in the exhibit the school had for the awarded essays, she told him it wasn't worth it.
He doesn't have this award-winning story because his mother refused to take it when the school people gave it to her, and it was lost.
Still, he kept dabbling and he had flair and imagination for another, more ambitious story. He put it to paper, and completed it! He managed to write an entire book!
But when his mother and siblings read it, they laughed and told him it was garbage, and so he threw it away, and ever since has refused to try and create anything ever again. He didn't even want to tell me what the book was about.
He did tell me what the awarded story was about. It was a pretty interesting, semi-horror/ modern fantasy spin on an athlete's effort to win in the Olympic Games. It even had a nice bit about making choices thrown in. I can definitely see why it was praised at the school. But when I told him so, he shook his head and said that it was terrible.
Another friend that was listening said “your folks clipped your wings.”
He denied it, saying that they simply grounded him to reality that he just doesn't have the talent that it takes to write things.
I can't tell you how terrible it felt to hear him say that.
Most likely, the story written by a child wouldn't have the maturity and experience that a novelist commands. Shocking, I know.
Maybe his book had ten thousand plot holes and cardboard characters or a pile up of cliche's higher than the Burj Khalifa.
So what. It was a finished first draft. It's not easy to finish a book at all. That alone is an excellent start.
He didn't need to hear that what he had invested time and effort to put on paper was garbage. Even if it was terrible or subpar, what he needed to hear was praise.
Not superficial, unrealistic praise.
Praise on finishing the damn book, first. Praise on creating characters, a plot, a world. Praise for effort that is the biggest promise one can have.
Then, after that, he would be ready to hear feedback. But constructive feedback. Not “here's how to improve your garbage book” but “here's how I think this would be more compelling”.
It's easy to clip wings.
It's much harder to strengthen them to be able to support a person's flight.
Do the latter, for goodness' sake.
(Rant over. Thank you.)
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 5, 2019
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