Learning is a life long process. The older I get (and mind you, I’m still just 29), the more I understand exactly what I don’t know.
Before my son, I figured I had the parenting thing down pat. I was ready y’all; I knew I could do this. After all, I had contributed to the rearing of 7 nieces and nephews. I have loved and trained dogs since my childhood; people bring their pets to me for behavior training. I’m also an experienced mental health therapist who has worked extensively with children and families.
Oh yeah, before my son, I had absolute confidence that I would go down in the annals of time alongside Dr. Spock and Dr. Seuss.
Reality check to self: babysitting somebody else’s kids, even your own kin is not the same thing as being a 24/7 parent. Reality check: animals are a LOT less complicated than humans. Reality check: you’re in session with your clients one, maybe two hours a week. There’s a whole lot more living going on that you don’t see.
After my son? Well, I’ve got my big-girl panties on and I can admit that I didn’t know half of what I needed to know. Actually, the more accurate word might be during, as he daily manages to teach me something new.
But you know what the good news is?
Each day, I get to see his beautiful smile, feel his strong healthy arms circle my neck, smell his warm, earthy big boy-baby smell (he’s 10, don’t tell him I said that) and realize that whatever mistakes I may have made the day before, I’ve got another opportunity to get it right.
So, I talked to other parents, I researched, and I practiced. I still practice. I give myself permission not to be perfect and I try to learn from my mistakes, so I don’t keep repeating the same ones.
This has been my approach to writing. In school, I’d had a natural aptitude for English and grammar, so I started this journey with a similar naivete (arrogance?) the day I decided I would write a novel. I had an idea for a story and was fairly confident that I would be able to get the whole thing down on paper in a few weeks and have it ready for publication not long after.
I am nothing if not a confident woman, right?? Geez!
Reality quickly set in. Good grammar does not good fiction make.
I had to learn a whole new skill set.
So, I took a few classes, I read exhaustively, and I networked with other writers. The more I do it, the more I understand that there’s a lot more that I don’t know, so much more that I have yet to learn.
But I keep going because when I see ideas and characters once in my head, now on my computer screen? It’s almost as sweet as my son’s smile.
I may never become the perfect writer but I know that each day, I’ve got one more opportunity to get it right.