“The only prerequisites for a writer are a word processor and thick skin.” – Mark Bell
I couldn’t agree more with Bell. I’ve been nervous for days as I await the first review of my book. Great reviews are the best thing in the world but they’re also the worst thing in the world. They mislead you more than the bad ones, only because they add fuel to your ego. Plus, good reviews are like a freaking Pringles chip, you can’t just have one. Soon you want another one and then another and before you know it you’re sitting on the couch with the empty Pringles can feeling fat, bloated, and greasy.
Let’s be honest, doing anything that’s important to you means that you have to shovel through a log of garbage, criticism and abuse. You can’t just ignore the bad and live in La-La Land, and at the same time you can’t just let one person’s comment or opinion talk you out of your goals and dreams.
I think it’s harder to have thick skin as Latin woman. It’s harder because there’s already this expectation. This face of polite and well-mannered that’s been instilled into you since birth. Growing up as a Latina you’re raised to respect a man. He is head of household. He is breadwinner. He makes choices. In the Hispanic community a woman is polite. She is non-confrontational. She is a great hostess. Barefoot and pregnant, tradition holding and cleanly. At least, that’s how it was taught to me in my household.
There was no hand book if your life turned out differently. No “Hey, just in case you get yourself an education and become the breadwinner and head of hold, this is what you have to do.” That option just didn’t exist. My father didn’t put away for our college educations because he never expected us to go. My father half expected that as girls we’d be pregnant and married before college came along.
Which made growing up harder because it was freaking confusing trying to figure it out. It always felt like my dad was such a hypocrite about my role as woman in society. It’s almost a miracle I didn’t get a sex change just to please him. One minute he wanted me to be a college graduate and run for president, the next all he ever expected of me was to bare children and permanently keep a man happy so he wouldn’t return me.
Not having thick skin is why when I’ve started a goal, I’ve kept much of the progress to myself except for what I blog about. Call it modesty, but the bigger picture is to reduce criticism. I’d much rather avoid the attacks of other people that threaten my motivation. Those “why?” askers instead of the “why not?” askers.
What I’ve learned about thick skin so far, is that it’s difficult because you need to manage it on two different levels. You need to be able to absorb and act on sometimes unfair criticism, while staying motivated. Having a thicker skin means you can get the best picture of the world, even when the messenger of that truth conceals it in an insult, verbal attack or abuse.
I would love to say that I have thick skin, that all the years of being caged with my parents have made me stronger. In all honesty, if it just meant, ignoring negative comments then having a thick skin would just be a matter of training. But it’s not. You need the critics, because criticism can help you make improvements. As a first time self-publisher, I need all the improvement I can get for book two.
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