Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Autism Answer: Learnings vs Lessons - A New Year of Playful Semantics!

"Spinning…is well-written overall, but there are several cases of misuse or overuse of punctuation, misuse of words--she seems to make up a language that includes saying “learnings” for “lessons” and uses “example” as a verb." ~Reviewer of my book

I don't generally do the "New Year's Resolution" thing. Sure, my family loves to chat about what we'll do and what we plan for our futures, but it's just never turned into something we do in earnest on the cusp of a new year. 

However, as I mentioned in my Self-Reflection Sunday sharing, this year we will! For those who haven't read my random sharing, here it is: 

"I'm thinking of making concrete resolutions with my sons this year. We almost never do that, it just doesn't match our style. However, this year we're all on the cusp of things, standing on the edge of getting new things done and creating our dreams. We're surrounded by the entire list of items and ingredients needed to stitch it all together, all that's left is for us to do it. So, I'm going to encourage us to actually make the resolution to do the work in 2016! We'll write it down, we'll tell each other our plans so that we've made it real, and so we'll be more likely to share and save any extra fabric one of us may have that might look dashing with another. You know what? Making New Year's Resolutions every year doesn't really match our style, but making New Year's Resolutions when our moment is right to do so, and being aware of that, does match us! Neat!"

My resolution is simple: I resolve to finish writing my novel (at least, the first draft) in 2016.

What, you may wonder, does any of this have to do with Learnings vs Lessons or the quote I shared in the beginning of the post? Well, I'm here to ease your wondering! Even if I am the one who pushed it on you in the first place. Hey, sometimes you gotta make a mess so you can clean it up! tee hee! 

Anyway, a few months ago I got the first critical review for my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up, and that first quote, that observation, that I like to make up words and I use "learnings" in place of "lessons" often, is something I'd like to share some learnings about! 

What the reviewer says is entirely true. In fact, if the review is ever published somewhere share-able I will certainly share it with you, because everything the reviewer said was true. I can't say, exactly, that it was a "bad" review, because there are lovely things within and the criticisms are valid and honest. But I get the feeling that the reader didn't entirely enjoy reading my book. And that's okay!

And that's, my friends, what I'm proud and thrilled and excited to learn that I'm comfortable with!! 

I have no interest in arguing with the reviewer, but I am excited to explain why I made the choices I made. For example, "Learnings vs Lessons" well, I think of my life learnings as something I'm continuously involved in and a part of. With the word "lessons" I get an image or feeling of a piece of advice or homework with an expected answer. Lessons sounds, to me, like a thing we are given or a thing we give. Not a thing we play in and explore and evolve and share and keep and then share again. So, I use the word "learnings". 

Of course, it's the wrong word. And that's okay. For me, that's okay. 

But it's true that often readers have no interest in reading a book with creatively invented words, poetic stylings that play indirectly with emotions, or incorrectly used punctuation. They want their entertainment to entertain them, and they want it to be done without asking them to allow for mistakes or follow a creative flow of observations. Good for them! I do that too!! 

For example, I love movies that stir my thoughts and encourage me to consider a life vastly different from mine. But films that play around with creative symbolism and strange edits in order to tell a deeper or more sophisticated tale, well, I often turn them off. Not because I don't value the tactics or learnings they offer, but because that's not what I want in my movies. 

Every single point that the reviewer made about my book regarding suggested tweaks and changes in order to make it more "professional" (that was a word often used) were things I had thought about before publishing. Points I had considered and made intentional decisions about. 

It's true. I use example as a verb, I love the learnings life offers and the lessons they create.
Semantics are fun! Lessons might mean something delightfully engaging and action filled for you. Sweet! Awesome!! I like that! For me, the word brings up something completed; finished. And I think that's fine too! 

One of the biggest, greatest, most delicious learnings I got after reading that review is to know that, like my favorite writers, I do make writing decisions purposefully, and I do know when I'm choosing to be creative or strange, and I don't mind criticism. 

In short: I'm a writer! 

So, now, I can dance into 2016 with strength! I can make that concrete New Year's resolution, to finish my novel, with confidence! Because I am a writer who knows what she's writing and knows when she's making unpopular choices and is completely okay with the criticism!!! 

Well, you know, after a few cups of coffee and a snuggle and a re-reading of the good reviews. Then I'm completely okay with criticism. tee hee! 

I hope you'll join me, friends. I hope you'll hang around and read my stories and share your own here on Autism Answers. I truly enjoy all of the lessons and learnings we've explored together throughout the years. I don't want this date to end! 

But regardless, whether we're here together or far apart, I certainly hope you have many delightful plans and thoughts, and that you anticipate many exciting lessons and learnings, for the New Year!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Pg. 9 of my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself.