Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Small Does Not Mean Powerless & Other Lessons I Learnt As A Person & As a Writer This February

On Monday my Kitty reminded me small can be very deadly 

I'm a flawed human being. No, no, no, don't laugh! I know that's not news. It's's always interesting when I see myself through someone else's eyes.

Sometimes it's scary because they see this glowing, fabulous person on a day when I'd swear I look like Gollum.

Other days, I'm Sauron to them and have to remind myself that while not perfect, I'm not that evil or complex.

Then there are days, rare days, when someone sees me very clearly and they don't like what they see,  and they gently suggest that I change.

Those times, I can see they have a valid point, respect that are urging me towards "socially" acceptable behaviour and either put in some work because their suggestion fits in who I am/want to be, or thank them kindly for their suggestion and just move on with my life because what they suggest does not fit in who I am.

Anyhoo, this month I learnt that:

Lesson 1: Some warts are beautiful

In general, I like me and  I know that removing some of the warts in my personality will be beneficial for my interactions with family, friends and business associates.

However, some warts suit me and they don't hurt anyone, and removing them would bend my personality into something that I'm not.

The change would also be hard work all the time and probably, not very sustainable, as I'd have to constantly bite my tongue or do things I don't want to or in a way I don't want to, just because "that's how it's done."

The important thing for me, is to know which warts hide a cancer and which ones are just a beauty mark  and if it's a beauty mark to the people who love me, I'm keeping it. (Thank you, Cindy Crawford for showing me and the world a wart can be beautiful).

Lesson 2: Somehow the universe conspires to make change difficult

The second lesson I learnt is that change is hard, whether it's change in direction or character/ personality or in a way you do something.  For example, soon after I mentioned on this blog that I was going to focus on writing more fiction, I was inaundated with client work. It felt as if the world was saying, " are you really going to say no to non-fiction, even though we have these lovely offers lined up for you?"

And ja, some of the work was/is interesting.  For example, I just finished a piece this morning for an IT security company (they do a lot of complicated stuff, but in my head I call them hackers for hire,  because they test the IT security systems of large corporates so they can block their vulnerabilities).

How can an honest-to-god IT fangirl say no to writing about that? Still, I also had to turn down some things down while crying inside, because there are not enough hours in the day to do it all.

Lesson 3: Some ideas are brilliant and will probably make someone rich, but I'm not the person to make them happen

That has been a hard pill to swallow. I'd love to write a literary novel that changes the world somehow, or do some huge community development project that changes lives.

The glitch is that I'm happiest when I'm in my office, writing, whether fiction or non-fiction.  And God bless me, I love reading genre fiction, even the predictability and formalaic feel of it. It's probably another flaw in my personality, because rumour has it that I have the brains to appreciate well-written literary fiction or even just mainstream fiction. And yet, most days I choose genre fiction for my intertainment.

That little twist in my brain is probably the same one that makes me read the last chapter of a novel first, before I begin the first chapter.

 I have to know how it ends to enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together and for me, the pleasure of reading comes from How and Why it happened, not from What happened.

And other than children's books, I can see myself writing a whole lotta genre fiction and being satisfied with that. No great South African novel hiding in my psyche, unfortunately. That same lesson applies to my life and business, BTW.
Lesson 4: Slow and steady does the job

I like to believe that I'm an OK writer. The challenge for me has always been that I'm a relatively slow writer and when a client wants a piece in very short order, sometimes my brain just gets stuck.

I'm not talking about something reasonable, like a news article or two per day. That's easy enough to do. But something more complex,  like someone asking for a report based on several meetings attended by more than 10 people, resulting in a  4-hour long audio, with all parties quoted accurately and statements attributed to the right people, in four days?

Luckily, my contact understood that this was not a reasonable request under any circumstance, and was willing to take my "No" to her own people.

Back when I was still green in this business, I would have taken the job ( and been grateful for it) and then spent the next four days killing myself to achieve a miracle, then been rapped on the knuckles because either I didn't meet the deadline anyway, or the work was shoddy.

As a former journalist, I do understand that speed is necessary to get things done in business or your competitor will eat your lunch and dinner. But I've also come to appreciate that quality work requires adequate time and attention to detail and when the people you deal with are used to crazy speeds, or have to face the consequences for being slow, it is hard to say "No."

On a broader scale, I've also come to appreciate that you can steadily whittle down a big project until you reach your objective.

At the beginning it may look big and overwhelming and when there are other parties who have stake in it and are pushing for it to get done now, it can also be very stressful. But if you do a little bit every day, eventually the progress does add up.

Lesson 5: Being small does not mean you're powerless

See that big snake at the beginning of the post? I'm told it's a cobra. My Kitty had a confrontion with it my garden and killed it. Ja, let's not discuss what else shares space in my vegetable and herb garden, huh? Because the problem with living close to nature? It's that sometimes you're too damn close to nature!

My point though is that Kitty, who probably doesn't even weigh a kilogram, consistently scratched that snake with her sharp claws until it bled to death.

Of course she wanted to tell me all about it, strutting into my kitchen with her bloody feet to miao all about it. Me? I was just scared when I first saw her bloody feet (not her own blood) and the snake, worrying about what would have happened if I met it alone in the garden, or what would have happened to Kitty if she lost.

She has earned a lot of respect from my family ( and some locals who are superstitious about cats) and has been getting a lot of treats as a reward. Anyhoo, I'm sure March will bring more lessons for me: some of the easy enough to digest, others kicking my butt. That's just life.

What did you learn this February and how are you applying it to your own life?


Sharon Himsl said...

I find it interesting that life does as you say, sometimes conspires against us when we attempt something new or try to change. It's then, I've also learned, that slow and steady really is important. We take a stand and strive to be the person we want to be. In other words, we 'stay the course' _/)

MartieCoetser said...

Hi Damaria, I think the most important is that we should know ourselves, and love ourselves just the way we are. Only when we know that we are making other people sad and happy, we should take another look at ourselves - and at the other people. Maybe they are selfish and need to learn that the sun is not shining out of them? Or maybe we are selfish and should change? Every relationship, whether with a relative, a friend, or business associate, is unique.

Good to see you are up and about. Give that kitty of yours a hug, she was very courageous.

Damaria Senne said...

Hi Sharon. Thanks for stopping by.
Martie, I'm so proud of Kitty. she completely changed the way I see her now.. instead of just being a pet, she's now my protector too. Thanks for stopping by.

Rebecca A Emrich said...

HI Damaria- I'm sorry I've been inactive for a while, but thank you thank you for this post, it proves that just slow and steady will do it.

I'm so glad you had Kitty. Lovely protector.

Lori said...

I'm right there with you, Damaria. If we are to love and be loved, it should be unconditional.

You ARE that glowing, fabulous person. And you are loved for everything you are, every fiber of your self.

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