Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Never too old to learn something new (by Patty Blount)

I'm having something of a mid life crisis as we get closer to my autumn birthday. Since this month's topic is about getting schooled, I thought you might enjoy hearing this story.

I'm not a particularly outgoing person. I can be shy and I definitely lack self-confidence. Public speaking terrifies me, but I do it because it was part of my day job and after I was published, it became even more important. 

A few years ago, a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America asked me to speak at their monthly meeting. I had two books published at this time and only a few people even knew my name. What could I possibly talk about? How could I talk about it when just the thought of it made me shiver?

My son sat down with me and asked me this question -- "If I asked you what your favorite part of writing is, what would you say?"

I thought about that for a minute and said, "Developing my characters. I adore Dan--"

Rob held up his hand. "I know. We all know how much you adore Dan, Mom." (Dan was the hero in SEND.)  "Why did you make Dan a boy instead of a girl?" 

"That's how I see him in my mind."

"But you're a girl. Isn't it easier to write girls?"

At this point, I was growing annoyed with Rob. Of course it's not 'easier' --- but you write what the story needs. He began asking me questions about writing boys and writing teenage boys and suddenly, I realized what he'd done. 

He'd allowed me to "self-discover" my confidence in writing male characters. The more I talked, the more fired up I got about the topic. We spoke for nearly an hour and he said, "You just delivered a workshop."

I grinned -- torn between feeling proud of myself for being so much more capable than I thought and proud of him for being so damn wise. 

There is no better feeling than to witness your child exhibiting wisdom you didn't know he had. 

I still suffer from low self-confidence but I do not dismiss opportunities out of hand anymore just because I think I can't. My son taught me that no matter how old you are, it's never old enough to stop learning something new. 

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