Thursday, May 27, 2010

Learning lessons

So ... last night I was teaching a crochet class with my daughter to two students. A mother and daughter came together to learn a new skill together. It got me to thinking about the learning process and how some people set themselves up to fail. The both commented that they had been "trying" with help from another friend but that they just couldn't get it. Below are some of their comments followed by what I wish I could have said but was very good and didn't.

Student: This looks horrible!
My Brain: Only because you have just begun you twit. What did you expect that you would be perfect to start with?

Student: Mine doesn't look like yours!
My Brain: Of course it doesn't. I've been crocheting for over 30 years. You've only begun tonight.

Student: I knew I couldn't do it
My Brain: Then why the hell did you sign up for this class and waste both your time and mine? I could be home knitting or reading a book or sewing.

Student: I can't do this!
My Brain: Well with an attitude like that I can see why you can't.

Student: Throws yarn down in a huff
My Brain: I think you need a little time out. Why don't you go walk around in the glue section for a while and find me the one that smells like hyacinth.

Student: I don't understand why people think this is easy
My Brain: I think I need a little time out. I'm going to go walk around in the glue section for a while until I find the one that smells like hyacinth.

Student: Do you think that knitting would be easier?
My Brain: Yes; I think that knitting is much easier and I prefer it. But I'd also prefer for you not to take anymore of my classes because I think you are a twit and lack major self-confidence that I can't rebuild in two and one half hours and I really don't know if I can take even that much more of your doubt and self-loathing.

Why is it people sign up to take a class (and it doesn't just have to be crochet or knitting, it can be a language class, a writing class, a programming class, a cooking class, whatever) and go into it thinking, "I can't do this"? Why did you take the class to begin with? Didn't you want to learn something new? Didn't you want to use that knowledge to better yourself in some way? Of course you may not get it the first (or second or even twentieth time) but if you stop after that first time you will have succeeded in failing. Every new skill requires some work and dedication. I've seen my children work through learning experiences, but I can't recall them ever saying, "I can't." They might say, "I"m not getting this" or "I don't understand this" or (my personal favorite) "Can you show me again?"

I hope those of you that read this don't see yourself in this post. I hope that you are as bewildered as I am. If you do happen to find yourself here, please consider why you want to learn something and what kind of attitude you are approaching a new venture with. The world is exciting with thousands of possibilities out there and we aren't going to succeed at all of them, but if we start with a defeatist attitude we might as well not even try to begin with.

Approach learning with an open mind and an open spirit. Even if it is a mandatory class in school, consider what you might gain from it. Be joyful in your acquisition of knowledge and experiences. And for my sake (and those of your professors) stop whining!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not feeling like a failure and failing in the kitchen

(Note: That is not my stove or I would not be this calm)

After going through my collection of query letters (and corresponding rejects) I realized I don't feel like a failure. Most of my rejects were your standard "Dear Author that I didn't even take time to fill in your name because this is a form letter and if you don't think it is then you fooling yourself, We may or may not have looked at your submission but we didn't like your name (the one we didn't bother to type above) so good luck (and get a new name). Sincerely, Random Agent." A few actually used my name and two actually gave me some decent feedback on what they were or were not looking for. Those are the ones that I look at most as they are reminder that someone out there at least took the time to look past my name. And It has been just slightly more than a year since I started down the "Let's see if I can be published road." So not bad. And it has given me time to take a second (and third and fourth) look at my writing and decide where it needs work. The biggest failing on my trilogy (my beloved trilogy that I have endeavoured over and even if it is never published will remain my favorite story) was a proper name. I never could find a good name for my books and then yesterday it all came to me what these books were called and voila! it feels more finished now. It's amazing how a book can change when it has a proper title (or rather how three books can change when they have proper titles).

As for the exploding kitchen. Let's just say that the text to Mr. KCW today read, "Dinner is homemade bread and whatever you kill and bring home." The oven works fine. The stove is setting itself up to be shot at sunrise. I'm wondering if I take my stove out the front door and push it down the driveway (I have a long steep driveway) and it crashed in the middle of the street if Mr. KCW would get the hint that I am not happy with the inadequate cooking appliance in the kitchen. I'd be happy if I had at least one large burner on which I could boil a pot of water, but NOOOOOooOOOOO! Stupid large burners are non-functioning (again) and one had the gall to explode and catch on fire (although not as lovely and dramatic as the picture above). Some days the front one works and some days it doesn't. Mostly it doesn't. And mostly I yell at it. I'm down to heating vegetables and cooking ramen. Both which I can do in the microwave. Oh and I can make a white sauce. Looks like we are going to have lots of ramen this week.