Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ancora Imparo. Are you?

Here's young Crystal analyzing even back then....

Supposedly Michaelangelo, when he was 87, said, "Ancora Imparo" which means "I am still learning." Whether he said this or not, his works left behind show us that he, indeed, was able to create new things, learning as he went, even up until the end. It is an inspiring story and a nice phrase to adopt no matter how old we are. I certainly needed that phrase and encouragement this week.

My husband often says that he has the mind of the beginner. I would like to think that I have the mind of a beginner, but boy, howdy, it is awful frustrating sometimes to start all over again. Mostly, in our culture, we see this as something to be frowned upon or to be "stupid." To go back to the drawing board when we've worked so hard on something can be devastating. But I like seeing new things and I do like hearing about something new and interesting. I have learned new things with each thing I write, so hopefully, I am always learning with joy. (Not always. Sometimes I grimace in the process.)

When someone points me to a new link or tells of a new way to do something, or I discover a new book that keeps me up all night to read "one more page," these are things I receive with glee. I am not always good at having this attitude of having the mind of a beginner for every aspect, but I try.  If you can live one more day, finding something new to attempt, or something to learn, it is worth it.

I don't know your circumstances or if you struggle  with thoughts of being worthless. (I sometimes do.) Since having read these words of Michaelangelo, again, I have thought that to see the world with the "mind of a beginner" may be just the thing to grasp and hold on to--to humbly learn and accept the new information. To not see "starting over" as some sort of awful disaster. God may have a better plan.

I think of what Albert Einstein said, "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called Research." And we all know that scientists,explorers, and artists, writers and the great composers--all of them didn't always know what they were doing, but they sought to continue and explore, to keep on, keeping on.

I especially want you to keep this in mind when you get a rejection or get those rewrites or if you're getting your Genesis entry back. Don't get discouraged. (Or give yourself a day or two with ice cream to get your second wind. Phew.) Strap on that helmet and get ready for the next step in your life long journey. And don't forget to reach out to your writing buddies along the way.

(I'm reaching out today as I needed this pep talk. Feel free to encourage! :) )

~Crystal Laine Miller


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Crystal -

Thanks for the timely post. This is my first Genesis Contest entry.

Susan :)

Christine said...

A timely post as usual, Crystal. I entered the Genesis this year again and didn't final. At first I was disappointed yesterday, but then today I woke up and felt strangely relieved. If I had finaled, I would have been under tremendous pressure to try to write that book AND the non-fiction I am committed to. So, it's been relieving to know God didn't give me that gift of the Genesis. I thought about Him today, as such a loving Father, that He gives fair and square to each of His children at different times. He will bless those of us who didn't win this year in another way. Blessings on you, Crystal.

Crystal Laine said...

Don't forget to look over the comments that your Genesis judges so earnestly wrote to help your writing. Do you know how much it would cost to have just one of those kinds of reports, much less 3?

It IS painful sometimes to think about what is ahead, but remember, too, if you have an open heart to learn, you could turn a corner really fast! For example, Cara Putman didn't final one year and actually got some low scores, and then her manuscript was picked up and she was published! That contest prepared her for what would come, but wasn't the end-all.

Thanks so much for encouraging me with your comments. I pray for both of you! :)

Cathy Shouse said...

I think as writers, it's important to realize we are never really "starting over." I've been thinking a lot about this idea because I'm reworking something, for the umpteenth time!

Maybe this is semantics but if we "rework" something, we are going back, but we are incorporating what we have learned since we began the thing. So, we can't get discouraged and even tell ourselves we're starting over. It isn't true.

No matter how many times I rewrite something, I will never be back at the very beginning, when I called an acquisitions editor and pitched her a book, knowing nothing. Zip. By the way, she referred me to "The Idiot's Guide to Getting PUblished" and the rest is they say.

I will never quite be that much of an "idiot' again and that brings me comfort in the dark moments. lol