Worth remembering, definitely.
Kindness and patience toward ourselves, as well.
I would have thought professional writing might have been a little MORE friendly than other industries. Because of expression and feelings and right-brainedness. But I might have been wrong.
It is friendly. It is extremely friendly. And sometimes that friendliness is the source of many problems.
a) People end up with no sense of personal boundaries and think they can run roughshod over each other because everyone is friendly.
b) People end up with an overly extensive sense of personal boundaries and think they cannot make normal business queries because they know too much about the people they're doing business with and their personal lives.
c) Gossip about feelings and expression and right-brainedness can get extremely extensive.
d) WE ARE ALL FRUITBATS. Seriously. We are all different kinds of fruitbats. But every last one of us. Complete. Fruitbats.
e) Sometimes the people who want to make life into USMC Boot Camp* get really really defensive about the fact that they work in an industry that is essentially fruitbattery, and they start going on about the TOUGHNESS. This gets obnoxious.
f) ...oh, I could go on.
*These people have never been to USMC Boot Camp. Were my grandpa the DI still alive, you could ask him and he would be glad to tell you the difference.
This was very ... revealing. Of the nature of the business.
d) I don't believe that. I think some of you are sane. You, for instance.
e) A pox on that ish. People are like that in newsrooms (for those not-Mrissa reading, I'm a copy editor, mostly in newspapers). "You gotta get thick skin, this is a newsroom. Uh-huh, so that means I'm going to get more done if I let you scream at me? No, no it does not.
d) Squash, I make up imaginary people and then try to make my makings-up of imaginary people better and then try to get people to pay me--in a timely fashion, no less--for this. My fruitbattery is fairly well-contained. But.
e) Yah, no kidding. No one ever has gotten more done from the screaming. Remember my grandpa the DI? Not a screamer. He'd have been the first guy to tell you that the screaming and the swearing were signs that you were doing it wrong.
Screaming should be a (hopefully very rare) sign that something has gone really wrong, as in, "get out, this building is on fire" or "someone come help me, I just fell and hit my head and may have a concussion." Not disagreements about how to lay out a page or what to have for dinner.
I thought being screamed/yelled at was a metaphor until I was 7 or 8 and witnessed the behavior at someone else's house.
I'm told that the scariest DIs were the ones who never screamed or swore.
When I think about toughness, I think about J.D. Salinger. Not only do many people today castigate his Holden Caulfield as the ultimate whiner (especially in SF circles), he was so stung by editorial demands and critical comments that he withdrew from publishing.
In other news: who stormed Utah Beach and did six month in Hürtgen Forest, fighting Nazis for every inch? Same dude.
What's painful and what's doable can be radically subjective. Though I'll add that people should remember this about themselves as well as others.
Edited at 2012-02-14 03:14 am (UTC)
Though I'll add that people should remember this about themselves as well as others.
Oh yes. Very easy to remember about my suffering. Your suffering, on the other hand? Pfft, don't be such a wimp.
And seriously, while I am not a big Salinger fan, he was pretty important to a lot of people. And one can't just dismiss him as a minor writer because he wasn't "tough" in one area.
So most of the oncology nurses I know are more on the bootcamp than fruitbat side of the column. But they are not cruel. They are extremely funny, incredibly compassionate, and I do not think the word 'badass' would go amiss. And gallows humor. I've never heard anything to quite that extent before.
I probably missed your post. Everything for me is going okay, except I work too much and I miss my private life and thoughts. The past few years have been really rough and I'm relieved to be in the middle of a mild patch. It makes me feel really lucky.
God damn it, babies. You've got to be kind.
2012-02-14 05:11 am (UTC)
George Eliot and Bill & Ted. That's my philosophy.
("What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?" and "Be excellent to each other." Same sentiment, slightly different presentation.)
Somewhat relatedly: three times in as many weeks, the same idea has come up -- "Jesus, don't let me turn into That Guy" -- most recently just a couple hours ago.
Having briefly been That Guy, and having no desire to do that again, here is what I have learned. I think that not being That Guy has two main components:
1) cultivate wisdom and stillness within yourself. This can be as complex as Buddhism, or as simple as sticking a Post-It note on your computer monitor that says 'Be nice', and
2) cultivate friends possessing of wisdom and stillness that are close enough to you that not only will they have the ability and motivation to tell you "Dude, you're being a douche, and you need to knock that shit off", but also that you will listen to them when they do so.
These two methods together create both internal and external controls against being That Guy.
Also, when I hear people going on about how people need to be tough, what I hear is "I suffered, so you have to suffer, or else I'll feel stupid for having suffered when I could have had it easy the way you do". With maybe a side order of "Nothing painless is worthwhile". All of which is bullshit.
I so agree with rosefox here.
Article in today's Guardian
about women chefs
- from which one of the takeaway messages seems to be that although professional cooking is strenuous and arduous and takes place in hot places with many sharp instruments around, all that doesn't really justify the whole macho culture that has grown up around it.
"There is, still, the work itself to do," may well be one of my personal mottos.
Good advice - not just for now, but for always.
Be gentle with one another. *hugs*
I keep rereading the first part of this post, that we are a mess, that a lot of us are struggling, and that's another important thing for me. Everything that I am going through is something someone else is going through, and chances are they don't suck, so I probably don't suck either. It's why I tell everyone about the side effects of jobsearching-- it helps me so much when someone says, "Oh, it's not just you, that's a lousy situation and you're not weak to notice it."
There are many different kinds of toughness. I knew a guy in Sarajevo--tall, lanky guy, all whipcord muscle and bony angles, who barely ever said a word unless you spoke to him directly. He never really displayed much initiative, and no one really expected much from him. He was the only one on the team who followed me into a quad under heavy fire to rescue four nurses who had been taken hostage--when even my own fire-team partner wouldn't. He took a 5.56 round to the shoulder on the way out because he put himself between the enemy and the nurses and still made it to the APC under his own power. Yet when he got home and found out his wife had left him he totally fell apart. He spent months in a mental institution on suicide watch.
You don't know how tough you are until you lose the things that really matter to you.
And I was a Drill Sgt for a little over six years. I rarely yelled, though there were others who did constantly. I got better results.
You don't look a thing like my grandpa, Steve, but there are more important things than looks.
I was recently describing a friend's nightmarish divorce battles to my Mom. She was nonplussed, saying that's often what happens in a divorce.
It drove home to me again the idea that incredibly difficult and painful experiences are really commonplace, even for those of us fortunate enough to live in peace and plenty. People around us are often in pain, but keep on doing their thing, because we all have responsibilities and goals.
(Transcendently joyful experiences also abound, but that doesn't seem to be the topic of the day, unfortunately.)
So yeah, everyone you meet is walking wounded, a scarred survivor, or going to be one or both of them in the future, unless they die young.
We need to be kind.
Transcendently joyful experiences also abound, but that doesn't seem to be the topic of the day, unfortunately.
Unfortunately, yes. But I do find that it's a sign of immaturity not to recognize that other people have had transcendently joyful experiences. The stereotypical one is the teenage "Mom and Dad don't know what it's like to be in love like this," but people sometimes don't grow out of it and go on thinking that surely the stodgy plain-looking neighbors couldn't possibly understand real art or similar dismissal of other people's transcendent joy.
Not as directly hurtful as dismissing other people's pain. But still to be avoided.
There's a particular series of stories, actually two linked series, that I read not because they are wonderfully well-written (they're not; they're OK enough that the writing mostly doesn't bug me) or because the worldbuilding is so fabulous it all links together in perfect logic (it doesn't) or even because the characters are all so realistically varied with unique goals (they are varied, but they all seem to be going int he same direction).
I read them because the characters in them live in love, or are actively working on helping each other to live in love and to love themselves and each other. They're not bracing enough for a steady diet, but they make good chicken-soup reading.
(Deborah Geary is the author.)
Sorry, the link between my comment and your post was transparently clear in my brain....
Anyway, I meant that I sometimes find it healing to immerse in fiction where people are being gentle and kind to each other, both because then I get that experience for the duration of the book, and as a reminder to walk in those paths when I leave the book.
In the last couple of years there are so many times I have told myself "I am not tough enough to be a writer. I don't know how a person can come face to face with all of this and still keep going."
And each time I have cried it out and let it be awful for as long as it took, and each time I have found my way back to the words, eventually.
So, yeah. It gets on my nerves when people insinuate that if you take things hard sometimes you shouldn't bother to write.
Some of my favorite writers who are also my friends are immensely sensitive people in some important ways that make them good writers. And some of my favorite writers who are also my friends are sensitive people in random ways that can't be controlled because we're all human.
What I don't think I have is any favorite writers who are complete thick-skinned brutes. And that may turn out to be meaningful.
The other day one of my advisors said something like, "Listen, I could yell at you, and that would change nothing, other than the fact that I yelled at you. Or I can sit down with you and help you figure out what you need, and we can start making progress."
I left his office feeling, for the first time in a year, like graduate school wasn't the biggest mistake of my life. It still may be, but at least now I have a feeling that I can actually make it work for me.
Thank goodness for patience and not yelling at people about being tough!
Go that advisor! I approve.
I didn't post to that thread because the comment read more like "I am just beginning to figure out that I have this problem," and I didn't feel you really wanted to feel as if you had to give advice to somebody who was only just beginning to figure things out. I then began a lot of positive comments but they seemed to invade other people's privacy.
As for toughness, I am so tired of that alleged requirement. I am also really NOT OKAY with the notion that one must write a million words of crap before producing something good, and I am EXTRA-SPECIALLY not okay with the maxim that if anything can prevent you from writing then it's a blessing and you should not be a writer. It all feels like a set of excuses for what is actually unconscionable behavior by publishing companies and/or their owners and controllers.
In my experience with advocates of "toughness", they have universally wanted to avoid any responsibility to themselves decry abuse.