Monday, January 24, 2011

What doan kill

In Barbados, we say, "What doan kill, does fatten." It means "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Funnily enough, it's actually true.

Where I come from, fat is a norm.

To the point where, at 200 pounds, I wasn't even considered fat, but 'thick.' Because in the grand scheme of things, 200 pounds in Barbados, is a drop of water in the sea.

And maybe that sounds good to you. Because some places, from the second you're 5 pounds overweight, people are all up in your Koolaid. You're constantly bombarded with pics of just-barely-not-anorexic models in your magazines and newspapers and on your tv screens. Your friends tell you that you're overweight and preface it with, "I'm telling you this because I care."

So a country where noone cares how much you weigh, or even is happy about you being overweight- well, it starts to sound like a good thing.

Until you get to the point where your health starts to get affected, or you realise you are actually obese, maybe even insanely so. Suddenly, you can see a perk to the harassment. Those pictures of skinny people might have motivated you to do something about your situation. Maybe you might have dragged your butt to the gym. Or taken an interest in your diet.

In the end, the pictures and the harsh words, they might hurt. But you would have been better off.

What doan kill, does fatten.

As writers, we're a bit like this, too. We don't want to hear the bad things. We get up in arms about the red ink going through our manuscripts. But imagine that noone critiqued you. And you just got an agent. And then you got an editor. And then you were published.

And your book went off to market half-baked, and you sell 2 1/2 copies.

But if you'd gone through a proper editorial process, you would have had a few rejections and maybe some scathing critiques, but then you would have dusted yourself off, and edited that baby into the best danged book that you are capable of producing. And that may or may not be a NYT best seller or a Printz Award winner, or an Oprah book club selection, but it would still be miles more amazing than if the whole world just left you in your happy delusion.

What doan kill, does fatten.

It's Monday. That's what's on my mind.


Abby Stevens said...

I really love your perspective, Claire. And I like hearing little tidbits about Barbados. Sounds like a great place to visit! :)

Aleeza said...

Can I just say that I quite adore you? No, really. The points you make up there all ring SO true. I recently read a book that I felt could have been So. Much. Better had it went through a better editorial process--even if it might've been harder for the author.
Really inspiring post :)

Colene Murphy said...

Perfect perspective! I found, after the first 2x being marked up by someone else that knew better than I did, being critiqued got a heck of a lot easier, and it's really this mindset that saves a bunch of heartache in the beginning. You said it so well!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I shudder to think what would have happened to my manuscript without critiques. It was way too word heavy among other things. Thanks for your perspective.

Alleged Author said...

I think it's great if you can find a phenom editor! I hope to get to that point some day.

Liza said...

Claire, this is such an honest and real post, and it ties so clearly to your point. We all need criticism. I look forward to reading you more and getting to know you and your writing through JP's crit group.