Daily Archives: June 14, 2010

How thick is your writing skin?

I bought new tennies thanks to my DD wearing mine in the mud.  While I knew better, I made the mistake of breaking them in on a three+ mile, brisk walk with the hubster.  I am paying for that mistake now.

The Free Dictionary defines a blister as “A local swelling of the skin that contains watery fluid and is caused by burning or irritation.” 

I would add “rubbing on the back of a brand new shoe” to the list of causes, and would insert the word painful before local swelling.  Especially when the blisters are silver dollar sized and stick out 1/2 inch on the back of each heel.  Terribly inconvenient might also be good descriptors, as would “hideous when filled with blood.” 

Eventually my pansy skin will get used to the new tennies and become callussed, thus allowing me to walk unlimited miles without earning more blisters. 

Not that the dictionary defines a callus as such, but in my experience, callusses are formed due to the body’s defense mechanism against repeated exposure to aggressive forces–ie, new shoes. 

A callus, as defined by The Free Dictionary, pretty much describes the plight of the writer.  It is “a localized thickening and enlargement of the horny layer of the skin.”

That first rejection causes a painful blister.  The 714th one barely adds a layer to the callus. 

I would like to pit the writing blister against the writing callus. 

When I was a kid, my dad told me that I cried at the drop of a hat.  “Even if you have to drop it yourself.”  In a sense, I was a walking blister and have since learned to quit throwing my hat to the ground.  This kind of emotional dysfunction does not suit a writer. 

As a writer, those first rejections and honest critiques are akin to my new-tennies blisters.  They are painful and caused by our inability to adequately distance ourselves from the chafing.  When experts talk about thickening our skin, they are warning against these kinds of blisters.

“Buck up.  Stop taking every comment personally.  Quit being a baby.  Stop whining.”  These are the commands we give ourselves to move past the initial pain and discomfort.  These phrases help us add layers over our emotions.  They build a barrier between us and our rejections, allowing us to continue writing and submitting.

Yet, I believe we can become so callussed that we lose sight of what rejections and critiques are telling us.  Our skin can become so thick that we simply move forward with our dreams and don’t even notice great advice when it comes our way.

So, how thick is your writing skin?  Do you still get blisters or have you built up the perfect protective layer?  Is there such a thing as being too callussed for our own good?  If so, how do we know when we reach that point?

sending virtual bandaids to those in need~ cat