Thursday’s Thoughts: Maturity

I once read that in the wild, wolf puppies bark like domestic dogs, but an adult wolf doesn’t bark. That is, in wolfdom, barking is a sign of immaturity.

A person could do a lot with that thought.

One might, for instance, compare domestic dogs to the welfare culture. Because they’re dependent on people for their survival, they never grow up.  But I won’t go there today. I’ll talk about barking instead.

This subject recently came to mind after an email discussion with a writer who participated in the Launch Pad contest. This is a contest for unpublished novelists sponsored/conducted by the Novel Rocket blog. I’m the contest administrator, so all correspondence concerning the event goes through me.

We conduct a different genre contest each month, with each monthly winner moving on to be a finalist for the Grand Prize. This past Monday, we announced the winner of the latest round, Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction.

Afterward, one of the entrants who didn’t win sent this lovely thank-you: “…I’d like to voice my appreciation of the incisive and immensely helpful critiques by the judges. I don’t think I’ve ever had such pertinent and useful feedback. Absolutely game-changing. …  I may not have won, but thanks to those critiques, I feel like I won anyway. Huzzah!”

I passed her appreciation on to the judges and asked her if we could quote her when we promote the contest next year. She gave her permission, saying “I’m sure there will be plenty more nice comments from other happy contestants.”

True, we did get other positive feedback. But most months, we also receive the occasional murmur from a writer who feels his or her creation didn’t get the credit it deserved. The fact is, though, this appreciative writer received two extensive critiques in which the judges marked up her manuscript liberally. Though they had positive things to say, most of their comments pointed out weaknesses and made suggestions for improvement.

All our entries get the same treatment. Some writers thank us; others complain; many make no response at all, so we don’t know if they found the critique helpful or offensive. As I told the writer whose thanks were so effusive, not everyone is thrilled to have her pride and joy cut to ribbons. The fact that she thanked us demonstrates her maturity as a writer.

Maturity doesn’t mean you’ve arrived; it means you realize there’s much to learn.

It means you’re less concerned about how others feel about you than you are about others’ concerns.

It means you don’t bark at every perceived threat.

It enables you to be patient, because you’ve seen enough yesterdays to know there will be a tomorrow.

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