It is so nice to receive compliments and to have the good opinion of others. It is something that I desire. But what about criticism?
Recently I participated in leadership training. A coach critiqued the discussion that I led. For ten minutes I listened to the coach list things I could have approached differently or done better.
I listened quietly, but later I vented to my husband. “I think I got a B- instead of an A.” The next day I brought up the subject again.
My husband said, “Are you still on this topic?”
The criticism pointed me to ways that I could grow and improve. Why was it so hard for me to see that?
This experience reminded me of a critique that I received for a manuscript proposal. My proposal and first chapter was marked up. Only a few lines were unmarked. There were questions about the setting, my format and more. At the time it stung. I had to pause, and gradually I have seen a new approach to this project.
Listening requires active participation. When it includes hearing criticism it is difficult. Sorting through the criticism to see what is helpful is important (not all criticism is helpful).
Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20 ESV
This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LISTEN
Over the years I have been introduced to many good books at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. At the 2012 Festival I listened to Marilyn McEntyre speak and then picked up a copy of her book. I am republishing a book review that I wrote.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 14
The book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, raises a concern about words and truth. Marilyn C. McEntyre fears that we are in danger of losing the depth of language as we text and tweet. Throughout the book she refers to the Bible, classic books and poetry, sketching the idea of ingesting words. Her book was a rich meal for me.
I had to read slowly, soaking in the wisdom of an English professor who has a love of language. I learned something about poetry and the value of poetic thought. Poets cherish words. McEntyre explains the good use of words, calling it reclamation. She writes: Everyone who writes with care, who treats words with respect and allows even the humblest its historical and grammatical dignity, participates in the exhilarating work of reclamation.
The chapter, Practice Poetry, gave me new insights into appreciating poetry.
The last chapter offers reflections on silence. McEntyre writes: Silence is to words what water is to the body and to the earth. Words, like food, nourish and support life in ways that reach beyond metaphor to solid fact. But it is in our silences that digestive and regenerative processes can take place.
This book encourages reading and attentiveness to words. I feel blessed that I grew up in a home where we read the Bible together and visited the library regularly. Reading books with the grandchildren gives me joy. Assisting the next generation to value good books is a gift we can give.
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Perhaps there is a right time to read a book. I started The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge some years ago, but I didn’t finish it. This time as I read the book I was thoroughly enjoying the writing. I lingered over the descriptions of setting, and the interesting choice of words, the unique phrases. I looked up some words in the dictionary.
The story follows the main character’s move to a village town in England. Mary, like the author, is single and has inherited a cottage from a cousin. She meets the endearing members of the village, each with their human quirks and flaws.
Throughout the book there are glimpses into a diary of a woman who suffered from mental illness. Mental illness is portrayed with insight and compassion by this author.
There are children in the story also. They are portrayed in a lovely, understanding way.
I would guess that Elizabeth Goudge understood and delighted in children. I enjoyed the special collection of “little things” that captures the imagination of the children.
The Scent of Water is a gentle story about people with flaws, the pursuit of faith, health and relationship. You have to read the book to catch the significance of the title.
A website about Elizabeth Goudge (1900 – 1984) provides a brief biography.
This post is part of #Write28Days. To view all the posts in the series click here.
Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday.
Good writers are readers. In order to become a better writer, I read extensively. I read fiction and nonfiction books. I read nursing and midwifery journals. I read the Bible. Last fall I thought that I should read a major newspaper to keep up with the events of the day.
If I was going to share my viewpoint on a subject, I needed to be well informed. So I subscribed to a major newspaper on-line and read it daily. Sometimes the views expressed in the paper upset me. But I kept reading.
Then the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh were widely reported, in detail, in the newspaper. I was offended because incidents were reported as if they were factual. It felt like gossip. Gossip about a very sensitive subject.
And so I terminated my subscription to the paper. I am now reading the daily news briefs from World Magazine on-line. As a Christian I want to be well informed. I want to participate in discussions that seek the truth. We live in a confusing and complex time.
I am spending more time in prayer as I try to understand how to live for Christ in a hurting world. I want to share love and light.
What do you read as you search for truth?
The prompt for FMF is: SHARE Click here to visit the Five Minute Friday. Also linking this post to Literary Musing Monday .