Thursday, October 27, 2011

Picking your battles is an art form

You know how sometimes people will say "I wish I didn't do this or that?" but you know perfectly well they have no intention of ever "doing" anything about it?

Well, this is not one of those posts. I really do want to learn how to Pick my Battles better. And I'm not just talking about with my kids or husband. Yes, I could do better on that front too, but I'm talking about picking battles with other people, and usually over things that have no long term baring on my life, like what football team everyone should be cheering for, (BYU) or which Pirates movie Johnny Depp was the drunkest in or why everyone should watch Parenthood on Tuesday nights on NBC and Psych on Wednesdays on USA...or how weird I think it is that some people don't even watch TV...ever! It shouldn't matter right? But to me everything matters and I can't keep my opinions to myself, especially if I disagree with you.

Here's an example: One day a young man gave what I thought was a very good talk in church. I was on the edge of my seat, though I can't remember what it was about now. But what I do remember was later discussing it with someone who stated that the talk was the most "boring, waste of time talk she'd ever heard."

Boring? Waste of time? Anything but! Was she in the same meeting as I had been? I did the right thing in the beginning. I quickly left the room, because I could feel my temperature rising. Why? I don't know. I disagreed completely with her? I felt that she was making a very extreme and exaggerated statement about something I didn't think she had even listened to. I went to the next room to cool down. I decided to let it go. I did okay for about twenty minutes, but the topic came up again, and I went for her juggler like a cat after a lame footed mouse. After all, wasn't it my duty to explain how she'd completely missed the mark? I was too defensive. She was surprised and then quickly pulled up her own fortress. It got much bigger than it should have and soon after it died down I wished I had never said anything.

The other day it reared its ugly head again. Someone made a remark about Nicholas Sparks writing "simple books". Hot sparks flared from my chest. I made a snide remark like "Well, I guess I like 'simple' books because I like Nicholas Sparks." It's true. I have enjoyed at least half a dozen of his books and at least that many movies. I like him as a person too. He has five kids just like me. He hasn't forgotten his religious roots and values. He loves his wife (as far as I know) and besides that, I think he's a darn good writer.

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion. You don't have to like Twilight to be my friend. I have several who couldn't get into it. That's fine. There are hundreds of other books to discuss, but if you say it is horribly written, I am going to come to the books defense. There are over 100 million copies out there in circulation. And the numbers do not lie. There is something about her writing that one, I can't put down and two, I find myself immersed in this imaginary world so well described that I ache to belong to it, and when it is finished, I mope about with a heavy heart knowing those people I came to love are not even real. Anyone that makes writing look this "simple and effortless" has done it by carefully fine tuning their craft like a musician fine tunes their instrument. Except writers have to first build that instrument and then fine tune it, rearranging words over and over again until there isn't one word out of place. It takes hours and hours, weeks upon weeks of skull cracking, soul searching work to craft such simplicity.

Now let's go back to the beginning. Why was I so quick to defend a total stranger over my sister-in-law, yes, sister-in-law. Why did I become so defensive about someone I didn't even know? Why was I willing to talk snarky with my mother-in-law. Yes, mother-in-law, over a novelist I have never met? Do I have issues? I don't know. You are welcome to analyze and prescribe, but be aware that I hold nothing back, especially if we are friends. If I don't know you I will probably remain silent and let it be. I have it all backwards. This being me business is not easy and I'd encourage anyone that can be me any better to step forward and take the wheel. Over and out.

To be simple, I've decided, takes great restraint and exactness.

And, in my opinion, writing with restraint is not simple.


  1. Oh, I love reading your posts! I wasn't the sister-in-law - was I? If so, I don't remember. ;) I think it is great you are so passionate!

  2. No! It wasn't you. Maybe we should keep this post under-wraps when around family. wink, wink. And thank you for recognizing my biggest weakness and greatest asset. I am very passionate about things. Just hope it doesn't ruin all my relationships!:)

  3. I can totally see you, tight smile, smoke coming out of your ears, walking quickly out of the room and trying to calm yourself down. Nice! I too enjoy Nicholas Sparks! I really enjoy "SIMPLE" in everything, everyone, and everyday! You keep on being passionate! It is too bad we do not live closer I think we could cause a lot of trouble (again)!

  4. I don't know why you can picture me so well. Could it be you've seen that face before?:) I do wish we were close Nat. Boy, we could have some fun!