October 1, 2015

How do we Grow Through Trials?




So, you’re tired of being stretched by continual struggles. You just want to be left alone long enough to catch your breath. You’re not asking for much; you just want a comfortable life. You don’t like the fact that you’re still looking for work, dealing with a severely life-limiting health problem, trying to get your loved ones to do what you want…


Well, sorry, but welcome to the real world. Life often hurts. Life is rarely relaxed for most of us. Yet, there’s method to the madness; we don’t grow if we aren’t pushed to do so.  Turn that around, and it becomes the good news, too: we do improve when we’re pushed beyond our self-imposed “limits”.

Gold

It’s the most precious metal on Earth. But, it doesn’t start out that way.

An article on a madehow.com  forum, called “How Products are Made: Gold” , lists the following steps of extracting and refining the precious metal:
  • Mining
  • Washing
  • Filtering
  • Combining it with water and grinding it up
  • Separating it with chemicals
  • Smelting (heating it with a substance called flux)
  • Hauling away the contaminated part, called slag, or dross

Writing/Editing

The process of self-publishing is its own kind of refiner’s fire. Yet, somehow, the initial product is smelted into a masterpiece that might add value to many readers. 

Truly successful writers and editors must allow themselves to be pushed waaaaay beyond the time when they wanted to be “done” with that pesky manuscript. Here are some examples:

Joanna—self-edited her book numerous times, yet it wasn’t enough. She is not a professional editor, and many reviewers told her that she had quite a few mistakes. She didn’t believe them, and she didn’t want to pay for professional editing. For one thing, she assumed that a professional editor would charge up to a $1,000 for their services.
Jack—had me beta read a manuscript. I told him that he had many issues with plot and characterization. He hadn’t picked up on those issues. He had thought the characters were developed enough.
Petra—is not a native speaker of English. I helped her with her manuscript. She had self-edited and proofread over and over again. Yet, she still had many issues with grammar and idiomatic language. I spent untold hours editing and explaining my edits. Finally, we thought the book was ready for formatting. Unfortunately, we found that, somehow, the “final” manuscript still had errors.  It was back to the drawing board.
Sally—is yet another non-native speaker. I saw one of her articles in which she struggled with idiomatic language. For instance, she used “to go person” instead of “go-to person”. (Word to the wise: if you’re unsure of the idiom, don’t use it. Oh, and please get an editor—or, at least a beta reader that speaks English well.)
Clara—is also not a native speaker of English.  She has challenges with syntax, informality, and repeating certain phrases too often.
Me—I am clarity-challenged. (There, I just made up a new p.c. word! Why not?) I used to use too many words to explain certain experiences, which would only confuse the reader or listener more. Wait, let me expound on what I meant by that last sentence…(Just kidding!)
After years, I appreciate the “Just the facts, Ma’am.” attitude. However, it has taken many years, and lots of feedback, to get me to write and think more clearly.
We won’t even discuss how long it takes me to write and edit my blog posts. You may still have found errors in this on.



My Conclusion

Transformation of any kind is a tedious, but necessary, process. It’s rarely pleasant, and it’s often more difficult than we could ever have imagined. Yet, the end result is always worth the hard work. It doesn’t matter if the objective is a polished book, better health, a more compassionate nature, or a job skill.

Often, when we think we’re “done”, that’s far from the case.  That homemade kids’ bracelet isn’t good enough. We’re being molded into that $2,000 wedding set in the high-end jewelry store—if we can be patient through the whole process.

For more on overcoming challenges, please see my book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds.

How have you survived the refiner’s fire?