Owning my flaws… let me count the ways
Oddly I think I had fewer flaws that bug me when I was younger. Does that mean I’ve just grown into them? Or am I just more aware of them now?
My wise father has always said, “We are all a work in progress.” We learn constantly about ourselves and the world. You can’t disagree with that. One has to recognize, accept and learn from those flaws but only if you want to improve yourself.
I grew up in a clean house; therefore I clean mine constantly to keep that high level. I clean as I go. It’s not a flaw but a habit learned from mom.
So what’s the difference? A flaw is detrimental.
I have a temper. I’m the ONLY one in my family with it, too. Really. I’ve had to bite my tongue so much over the years I shouldn’t have one anymore. During my husband’s Marine career, I didn’t voice my opinion much because often it was contrary to USMC policy. I am the daughter of a Marine Colonel and had ‘what you do reflects on me’ hammered into my brain, so I know the consequences.
Being aware of my temper forced me to step back often, do the ‘count to ten before you speak’ or meditate, stuff like that. I’ve tried to meditate but my mind is like a pinball machine, shooting from one topic to another. I have ADD and consider it a flaw. To balance that, I need lots of notes and reminders.
I could have been an addict. I get obsessed with a subject sometimes. I’ll pour over books, movies, documentaries to learn all I can on one subject. I’ve done this with jewelry and candle making, perfume, pottery… well, you get the idea. The thing is, I learn it all, and then I’m bored with it, set it aside and rarely go back unless it generates a novel.
I feel very strongly there is a standard in having a writing career and just being a decent human being. If you cross it, I will write you off. Ethics and professionalism have a high moral value to me. When a colleague reported to me that she and several writers were auditing a major publishing house, I printed that fact in an Op Ed piece. Sans the names, of course. She was auditing my publisher and the CEO called me, wanting to know the names. I refused and if he had pursued, I could have gone to jail. I would have done so gladly too. So you see, I’m loyal to my friends. When it comes down to basic need, the people in our lives are the only thing that matters. I raise my sons to ‘surround themselves only with people who treat you as you treat them.’ Ditch the rest. Life is too short.
With writing, I lack confidence in my work. That wasn’t always the case but it seems the longer I’m at it, the more I see the flaws in my writing and want desperately to correct them and be better. I’ll go back to the basics until I recognize that I already know this stuff, proving again my lack of confidence. It’s a waste of time and effort and lately, I’ve managed to see if before I go off the reservation. I’d like to blame the death of my friend and editor Kate, but that’s not all of it. Add in menopause with its accompanying depression that just pisses me off, and that makes for a hot mess. I hate disappointing readers. I know I have. They are waiting for a book that will likely not be published unless I do it myself.
To counteract this, I need a challenge. A mental challenge. Writing a historical– something I haven’t done nor read in 10 years– is it. It’s slow, regaining the ‘voice’ is the toughest but I had to accept that the writing will never be the same because I’m not the same person. When I reach the point that flowery descriptions don’t make me roll my eyes, I’ll be there.