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Positive and Negative Feedback, Part 2

So I turned in my first writing assignment today, feeling all happy and accomplished.  I was even fantasizing about how I can put a link in my blog to this article when it gets published.  And then I got an email saying that my article has been reviewed and requires rewrites.

As you know, I am not good with negative feedback, so I tried to prepare myself for the worst:  What if they say it’s all wrong?  Then I’ll just correct it and give them what they want.  That sounds easy enough.  And then I read the comments. 

I have to give the editor credit; that was the most constructive way possible of saying that my article sucked.  I didn’t answer the person’s question.  I used examples more appropriate for middle-aged women than the teenagers and young adults who read the website.  I had one good sentence in the entire article.  I didn’t use AP format.  I didn’t follow the writing guidelines.

I’m sure she was thinking, did you not read any of the materials we sent you?!  I did!  I really did.  Except for the AP manual.  I haven’t gotten it in the mail yet.  I really wanted to get started, and I thought, how different can it be from APA or MLA format? 

Would it be unprofessional if I wrote “Oops!” in the notes to the editor section?

My first thought was to quit since I obviously have no idea what I’m doing.  But then I decided to write myself a pep talk: You work closely with an editor for the first 3 assignments for a reason; you’re supposed to suck.  In fact, I bet they give writers that bonus after the 3rd article because some people get so demoralized by all the rewrites that they give up.

Then I worked on the rewrite for several hours.  I have another draft but I have no idea whether this version is any better than the first one because I don’t trust my judgment anymore.  I guess this is why people are afraid to get their hopes up; the fall is so much higher from the grandiose cloud that I was floating on.

I may not be good with positive feedback, but I am the Mt. Everest climber of impossible tasks.  Knitting pattern that is far more complicated than my skill level?  I’ll have it done by Christmas.  My football team is 2-5?  Well, we still have 4 more chances to win!  My tennis team is 1-6?  I’ll just pretend that we are in our second season, and we’re only down 0-1 in this one.

Sometimes it helps to be a little delusional.  If we made all of our decisions based on what we think we are capable of, we may never take the risk of finding out what is possible.

Knitting and Relationships

I love knitting.  Some of the time.  It’s actually more like a love/hate thing. 

Last night I was working for several hours on this dress for my niece, only to have to rip out every row except one.  Four hours of knitting for one row.

I only have myself to blame.  It’s a complicated pattern where every stitch has to be accurate, and I knew I had messed up but I figured, it’s at the end of the row.  It will be at the seam.  I can make it work!  I’ve made this mistake hundreds of times, and it always costs me in the end. 

My problem is that I love to knit complicated patterns.  Most people find a pattern for a scarf that they like and they knit 5 of them.  I, on the other hand, decide to knit something like a dress, which takes months to knit, and when I’m done I never want to see the pattern again. 

I’m actually selling a few of the items that I’ve knit at The Stitchin’ Post.  Even if they sell, the best I can hope for is to cover the cost of the materials, because I’m only making something like one cent an hour. 

But that’s OK.  I’m not doing it for the money.  I just like the challenge.  To me, patterns are more like puzzles to be solved, like Minesweeper or Sudoku.  A pattern that I have already mastered is boring and no longer holds my interest. 

My relationships follow a similar pattern.  I like a challenge–someone with all kinds of issues and baggage and diagnoses.   I want to hear all about their problems, learn how they developed, and figure out how to solve them.  That’s why I became a psychologist.  No matter how messy things get I think, that’s OK.  I can still make it work!  Which is not always a bad thing.  But sometimes you  need to cut your losses and start over, in knitting and in life.

The problem is, the majority of my family members have some type of mental illness, so I have a skewed notion of what a “normal” relationship is.  Several years ago I was talking to one of my colleagues about the demise of my first marriage and she said, “marriage is hard work, but it shouldn’t be like climbing Mt. Everest.”  I thought, really?  It sounded that bad?  

But some people do climb Mt. Everest for fun, and I guess I like scaling psychological mountains.  Like knitting a dress for my niece by Christmas.  Which I will work on again tonight.