40 Fit N' Stylish
Melissa McNallan is Writing

Doing vs. Waiting | Journal Entry 31 of 108

April 24, 2019 0 Comments

I decide not to apply for the Minnesota State Arts Board Grant in Prose. My grant application was going to request funds for professional manuscript critiques and a professional writing mentor.

Chris (le fiance) and I discussed my decision this morning. I like getting his input, because his thoughts often challenge and complement mine. He pointed out that I am always learning, studying, and seeking knowledge. Why apply and wait for months for money to see if you can give to someone else to see if you’re on the right track?

I could change what I request funds for. Many applicants assign a dollar amount to their time. My time is priceless and I don’t want to appraise it, or have it appraised though.

I’ve received the grant before, almost a decade ago. At that time, I think I was looking for assurance, permission, and guidance. Am I really good enough to try doing this? Their answer was yes. It’s a decade later and I still question…

Note: The Minnesota State Arts Board Grant program was an honor to receive in 2010 and is a magnificent and worthwhile program. They strive to support artists in becoming and evolving in a myriad of ways. Today, it’s not for me. Next year, who knows? It might be.

This morning, instead of applying for the grant, I’m writing and putting my writing into the world through means that make sense. I’m working on my blog and doing all I can to make it into a profitable business.

What means make sense?

This journal piece will be at home on my blog within the next hour, or two. I’m writing this, because I’ve been meditating on Chapter 31 of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Over a year ago I started writing journal entries using each chapter of the book as a prompt.

Elizabeth Gilbert Quote from Chapter 31 of Eat Pray Love

From Chapter 31 of Eat, Pray, Love

The encouraging pieces about the writing process that I’ve written for Medium do well on that platform, so I’ll post this piece there too.

Once I am done writing and posting this, I will send the essay Brevity rejected with kindness onto another place.

Are all rejection letters kind now? Do they all request the writer send more work their way? It’s hard to discern how “form” the response they sent me is. Do they have different form responses they send depending on the quality of the work?

I do not know the answer and wish that I did.

Like an adult child, the essay must now find its way into the world. My responsibility is to keep encouraging it by sending it back out, even when I feel discouraged. Sometimes it takes time for a piece to find its home.

30 minutes of my day will be spent working on my novel work in progress (#WIP). For me, the time spent tends to yield about 500 words. I’m okay with the process being slow-going.

I will begin revising the short story I entered it into the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. When I entered the competition, I paid a little extra for a critique. It was worth it! I want to work through the feedback, both good and bad, and send the piece back into the world.

Responding to Feedback

It’s important to listen to criticism and feedback with care. Really. Here are my steps:

  • Smile and say thank you. Someone has taken the time to think about me, my work, my words, and to offer their response to it.
  • If there’s something that I don’t understand about the feedback, I ask for clarification, or elaboration. To challenge, or point out how I disagree with the feedback isn’t useful. Besides, it may prevent the person generous enough to provide it from proffering it again.
  • Incorporate the worthy feedback into my work. This is always my decision, this deciding of what is worthy of my action. It’s my work and if I want it to suck a certain way in the eyes of whomever has provided me with the feedback, so be it. I am the one responsible for the piece. One Important Exception: If it’s the editor of a publication I am writing for giving the critique, they are taking on the responsibility of how my work fits within their publication. Their input carries tremendous weight.

In fact, as I edited this, my fiance noticed a typo in one of my posts. I just followed these exact steps to amend the error.

Don’t let fear of being wrong stop you…

We can only stay in the classroom for so long, be learners for so long, before we have to just go out and try. See if it works, or doesn’t. Then, try something else. Try again.

When have you had to let go of learning how to do a thing and shift gears into just doing?

Back in the day, when I was 19, my roommates used to tease me for reading so much. The trouble, as they saw it, was I wasn’t living. “You can’t learn everything from a book,” they’d say.

True.
However, I knew who Van Gogh was and they did not.
I love reading. I’m also a tremendous over-thinker. Are you? Women have a habit of not thinking of themselves as capable unless they feel 100% knowledgeable and qualified. Men don’t feel encumbered by a need to be qualified. It’s a popular topic right now in articles, books, and conversations.

Want to be encouraged by the words of wise women?

At a Women Entrepreneurs Forum Panel Discussion I attended earlier this month the topic of how women wait came up.

“Start something. Don’t wait for permission,” said Kim Norton, the Mayor of Rochester, MN.

“It’s like we wait to be asked to the dance,” Melissa Brinkman, CEO of Custom Alarm said.

“Just go dance.” Norton encouraged.

You can watch, or have a listen to the same panel discussion I attended via the video below. The marvelous Heather Holmes moderated.

In REFINE, we talk about doing it afraid. We encourage each other to do it afraid. Cheers and likes are given when someone shares a story about what they did afraid.

Not knowing is okay. Figure it out.

Giving myself permission to figure out how to do something without knowing the answer has been empowering. It takes a deep breath. It takes patience. Like my 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th, and 6th grade teachers often told my parents during conferences, “She can do most anything when she puts her mind to it.” It’s only taken 40+ years of living for me to believe it. How about you? Do you give yourself permission to figure things out?

This post is part of a series inspired by Eat Pray Love.

You can connect with me on Instagram @40FitNStylish, on Twitter @MelissaMcNallan, and on Facebook @40FitNStylish.


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