Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG What's in your glass?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The first Wednesday of the month is time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group or IWSG, started by Alex J. Cavanuagh. I missed last month partly due to a new computer, a lap top, which I've never had before and subsequently, a big learning curve. To read other submissions in this blog fest or hop or whatever you want to call it go here.

I've been thinking about the over used cliche, Is your glass half....and you know the rest.

Most of us reading these posts are writers in various genres. When we begin a new story we also develop characters for our stories. How much of this cliche do you consider? Is your character a pessimist or an optimist? How does their glass affect the other characters and the over all tone of the story? What about your own life? How do the people you interact with on a daily basis affect you and therefore, affect your writing?

My mother is 92 years old and has dementia. An interesting phenomenon that occurs with this illness is that the happy memories are brought into clearer focus for them. This means that if there is a memory that may have previously brought out some other emotion, it may be (not always) that the person will remember only the good. Why am I telling you this in reference to the glass thing?

When I was a child a teacher switched me from my left hand to my right hand and gave me a learning disability. I wasn't learning. The school wanted my mother to institutionalize me. She taught me phonics and spent a lot of time with me so that I was able to overcome this problem. From my mother's perspective this was a terrible thing and stressed her out a lot. She used to say quite often, "There's something not right with Nancy." I heard that so much that I was held back by those words as much as I was held back by my learning disability that really went away as soon as I could read.

In this case, my mother's half empty glass affected who I became as an adult. On the one hand, she was there for me, but also her attitude limited me.

Recently when I went to visit her she said, "When I told the doctor what they (the school) said about you. (Inferring that the school thought I was mentally disabled.) He (the doctor) laughed. He said you were a brilliant child."

I am 62 years old and I have never heard this before in my life. What a difference this would have made to my self esteem and confidence if I had been told as a child that I was brilliant instead of something was wrong with me.

I strongly believe that when we interact with others we need to bear in mind what we do and say. Likewise, do I want a half empty hero? Or one who may face obstacles, may even stumble, but comes out a better person for it. It's okay to scar your characters, but as a reader, life is hard enough without ending in quick sand.

Of course, you may totally disagree with me. I'd love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment.


Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us! My IWSG post is also about education.

Words and the things people say can really affect us. I still remember the time when my father called me a "bump-on-the-log". Silly, I know. But at the time I was so ashamed that I only had a GED, wasn't going to college, and couldn't work because of limitations, so his words hurt me. I heard them on repeat for days afterward. If only people thought of how what they say can impact someone. . . .

And you are brilliant, Nancy! :D

Kay L. Davies said...

It is absolutely criminal that teachers could inflict a learning disability on an intelligent child. I hope they no longer do such things. And "institutionalize"? Migawd.
I started school when I was five (December birthday) and later, after a week in Grade 2, I was put into Grade 3 because I could read and write so well. From then on, I had a life disability: Terror. I was two years younger, and much smaller, than my classmates. It took me years to get past my fear of them.
I'm so glad your mother finally told you. My mother and I had most things worked out before she died, except for one thing: she always told me I'd be a lousy mother, so I had one abortion and no children. She told my sister she'd be a great mother, but she was wrong there, too.
It is very sad what parents and teachers can (perhaps unthinkingly sometimes) do to a child or a teenager.

Carol Riggs said...

Oh, great thoughts here. It's a shame kids are told such negative things, things that affect their self-confidence for years. Good things to remember for the characters in our novels, too. Hugs!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It really does affect us. So many people are negative and they don't even realize it or what it does to other people.
Sorry you didn't get more encouragement when you were younger.

Southpaw said...

Wow, what a shock that must have been, but a least you did finally get to hear it.

I like the expression the glass is always full with a liquid to air ratio. It make a great philosophical topic.

Lexa Cain said...

What a touching story. It's great that you get to hear something positive and reaffirming after all these years. Have a great weekend! :)

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks everyone. I'm sorry I'm so late getting to it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nancy .. I'm late getting to comment. The left-handed thing is just dreadful to hear about .. but sadly adults relate to adults ..

However I'm glad you heard the right words now ..

My great uncle could get his health right when he was elderly ... eventually the doctor asked which hand he wrote with: right ... well try writing with your left ....

.... amazingly he healed shortly afterwards.

Tales to be learnt .. but the negative affirmations, if that's not an oxymoron thought, are just dreadful to read .. and they're there all the time in our daily lives.

I hope you always look at both sides and take the brighter way ... definitely half full, at least .. cheers Hilary