Knocked Down, But Not Out
The 90’s song I get knocked down but I get up again makes me think of an inflated vinyl toy I had in the 70’s. Bozo the clown was weighted at the bottom and you could punch the life out of him. He would pop right back up, smile at you, begging you to hit him again. What a violent child I must I have been!
I’ve been studying a travel-writing course the last few weeks and I would have enjoyed giving Bozo a few punches as I dealt with frustration. The feedback on my first assignment was very positive. My confidence was boosted and I told myself the course was going to be a breeze.
When the Lord finished the world, He pronounced it good. That is what I said about my first work, too. But Time, I tell you, Time takes the confidence out of these incautious early opinions. — Mark Twain
The next week, the lecturer was totally perplexed by my idea and couldn’t figure out what I was thinking. It’s an online course, so the feedback is oral. You read everyone else’s work and also hear the feedback.
I’d only done a short piece and written one part in detail as an example of how the article would flow. I wrote more than anyone else and we weren’t supposed to write the whole article. I could hear the questions in the lecturer’s voice and the struggle to come up with something positive.
So, this week I basically wrote the whole article and she commented that wasn’t necessary. She also said I could be more original in the choices of activities I chose.
These words came to mind:
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down
Critiquing yourself, and having others critique your work, is crucial. How else do you learn?
As I’ve worked, studied and written the last few years, I’ve had my share of humiliation and frustration, along with some success. If we’re learning, developing and willing to learn from our mistakes, we will improve.
My goal is to be able to write and be at a level that is world class. I’m not sure what that means exactly and who decides if you’ve made it or not, but I strive to become better at what I do.
“Success teaches us nothing; only failure teaches.” Hyman G. Rickover
Later this year I have the privilege of going to a creative writing summer school at Oxford University. I didn’t think I’d be accepted, however, I sent in my application, writing samples and references. I told myself, there’s no point in not trying is there? After the acceptance date passed, I made other plans, but at midnight last Tuesday an email arrived offering me a place.
Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him. Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m hoping this opportunity will push me and help me become a better writer. I’m positively scared to show my work to an Oxford lecturer and hear the criticism. I’m sure I’ll cry and want to give up writing altogether, but I hope that I will have the character to get back up again.
Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
When I want to run away and hide, I’ll remember this:
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. Proverbs 1:5