Monday, April 15, 2013

Knocked Down, But Not Out

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.
C.S. Lewis

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

Elaine Fraser


  1. A great blog Elaine. What a fantastic opportunity to do that course at Oxford. I'm sure God will bless you for your dedication to be the best writer you can be.

  2. All the best with your studies, Elaine. It's true we have to press on and keep learning, in spite of how it makes us feel sometimes.

  3. Thanks for that inspiring post Elaine. Of course you will keep going and of course you will do it well. Congratulations on getting into Oxford. That's awesome! No doubt that will be the start of more creative juices flowing - even more freely.

    I think you say it all when you talk of a learner's attitude being crucial. My Dad was sitting for a Post grad diploma exam on his 80th b'day. Inspires me to have learning as a life time goal.

    I have no doubt you will reach for the stars and get there. All the best in your writing adventures Elaine!

  4. Good luck with the course Elaine. You deserve it!

  5. Elaine, I was just telling my son today that the only thing that holds us back is ourselves. Congratulations on your success in enrolling into Oxford and remember that we CAN do all things if we BELIEVE. If God put the passion there, he will help you to learn all you need and take you beyond even that.


  6. What an amazing God-given opportunity, Elaine. Obviously they see promise in your work otherwise no invitation. I can understand your feelings of trepidation working in such an awe-inspiring place but you're there for a reason and you'll surely step up to another level in your work.

    God bless you