Friday, October 23, 2009

Professionally Developed

Okay, so a week or two ago I had to attend some professional development meetings. That's right, I am now professionally developed.

Anyway, my principal rawks. Hard. She is so inspiring. And in a climate where we're losing like 30% of our budget and stuff like that, it's good to be around people that A) make you smile and then B) motivate you to do your job better.

And since I have a currently undiagnosed illness, I relate everything I hear to this whole "Hey, I wrote a book and now I want to publish it." thing. Do you have this illness? Perhaps it's just me.

So do you want to be professionally developed? You know you do.

Let's start with a picture.

This is Aspens Aglow by Connie Tom. And I love love love this painting. Because I love my nature moments to come in shades of gold and red.

There's just something about fall that I adore. The weather is finally cooler. The longer nights with brighter moons. The brilliant colors of the leaves.

Trees go through this massive change every year. First their delightful green leaves turn into brilliant oranges and yellows and reds. The beauty is spectacular. Walking through the forest is peaceful and awe-inspiring. 

You never hear trees say, "You know, I don't think I'm going to change this year. I like my leaves just the way they are." That doesn't happen. Because the trees somehow know that when they allow themselves to change, they become better. They become awesome.

And this awesomeness comes from being stretched. The result is absolutely stunning. Notice that the cooler weather only stretches the trees. It doesn't break them.

This is how we are as writers. We must be stretched. Challenged to learn more, be better. And what happens when we accept this challenge?

We're beautiful and absolutely amazing.

We can produce gorgeous colors and achieve great things.

What do you think? Have you grown as a writer when you've been challenged? Is the result as amazing as the fall foliage? Or have the stretches broken you?


Scott said...

What doesn't break us makes us . . . drink more margaritas!

I'm a firm believer that if we accept life as it is, status quo, and all that jazz . . . then we stagnate as individuals. We stop growing.

I feel the same way about my writing. If I don't challenge myself, if I just accept how I'm currently writing is 'good enough' then, eventually, I'll stagnate as a writer.

I love to experiment with my writing. I love to try new things.

Yeah, it's great when a writer develops a style/format and all their books are done in this way. I want something better than 'great'. I want to challenge myself . . . and my readers as well.

So, I'm growing as a writer, day by day, as I think of new ways of interpreting from The Beginning to The End. : )


Unknown said...

I don't feel broken... I'm not to a beautiful fall yet, but I feel like I've learned so much. There are things I didn't want to do (like learning how to critique someone), but doing so has certainly made me a better writer.

I love your analogy to the trees. We do grow during times of change and when we stubbornly refuse to, we are giving up that awesome chance. Wonderful post!

Annie Louden said...

Really nice post, Elana! This is a great analogy and observation.

Corey Schwartz said...

Yes, I think everyone does better when they are pushed. That's why people get personal trainers at the gym :) And it's totally the same with writing. We need someone standing over our shoulder saying "just five more!"

Unknown said...

As you mentioned at the beginning of your post, it's so important to surround yourself with inspiring people. I feel that I thrive and grow most when those who support and encourage me also push me to do more.

That picture is beautiful and I've realized that fall is my most motivating time of the year. I wrote my first book last fall (MG) and just finished my first YA book this fall. If only I can stay that motivated the other seasons of the year. :)

Tana said...

Oh yes. Growing, stretching, it's all painful but good for you in the end, I suppose, pray and hope ;)

Unknown said...

Uhggg. This is too deep for me today. Yikes. Mind. Breaking.

Windy said...

Such a profound post! Love the positive vibes you've been spreading.

And stretching, yes. Someone ... (ahem ;D) said they could totally see the growth between my first and second novels and I found amazing inspiration in that. So I guess I have grown and stretched with all that I've learned since I began writing.

Jen said...

I grow with every word I type, every time I sit in front of a blank page and doodle mercilessly until the words come screaming down my arm and flood the paper with ink and anguish.

Thank you for sharing this and the beautiful painting!

Happy weekend!

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I LOVE that painting (that's a painting?!) and fall in general. Too bad we don't get that season here.

I definitely think you need to stretch to grow, and I think it's the advice that stings the most that's forced me to develop my skills the most. I'm grateful for those who stretch me, even if they have to give a good yank now and then.

L. T. Host said...

I love my writer and bloggy friends because you're all very good at motivating me through the challenges, but also cutting me down to size when I need it. It's the perfect balance of support and necessity.

As for the challenges, they have made me a stronger writer, less afraid to tackle things I wouldn't have before. Good post. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

awesome post Elana!
I hope I've stretched and grown. I really, really hope so.
I'm glad you have a good principal. I think that makes a huge impact on the success of a school.

lisa and laura said...

That picture is absolutely gorgeous. It's the perfect visual for how we change and grow as writers. Love it.

Northwriter said...

Yes, Growth for me as a writer has come from being challenged. The results feel amazing to me because twice when I thought my book was finished,i.e. ready for querying and submission, I got feedback that helped me push the book to another, and then another level. It was sort of like climbing a mountain and reaching false summits and choosing to keep going rather than turning around. I'm still on the mountain but am committed to continuing toward the top.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Beautiful image -- the picture, and the idea of us growing and changing as writers.

Anonymous said...

There are times I thought I broke but I didn't. I stretched further than I knew I could. When I was willing to look at it seriously, I saw how much growth there was.

A beautiful, inspiring post, Elana.

Katie Ganshert said...

Yes, I've been stretched. And while it wasn't very much fun at the time, it was well worth it. I hope to be stretched again sometime soon. :)

Stina said...

Most definitely. I switched from YA paranormal to YA contemporary (something I thought I'd never do) and my writing improved big time. Now I'm not focused on the fantasy elements of my plot. Now I'm focused on my characterizations, and my story's better for it. I've also used other techniques in writing, such as flashbacks, that have helped enrich the story.

Remember, trees that don't change and lose their leaves, are prone to break when the snow falls.

Unknown said...

I definitely improve when being stretched, but I don't know that I'm to glorious fall foliage yet. Working on it, though. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Stretching is good. Growing is good. Change is good. Great analogies, Elana!

I love writing and the challenges it brings with it. It such a such a rewarding sensation when you get the right word, the right sensation, the right reaction. And you only get it when you stretch!

storyqueen said...

I really like this post, Elana. Sometimes it feels like the stretch is too much....kind of feeling like that now with many things.....but hoping for the beautiful, amazing foliage. Or even just orange. I'd take orange.


I Must Be Off said...

Thanks, Elana, for this. Yes, when we're stretched we grow into something amazing. I'm going to tell myself this all week.

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