IWSG March 2, 2016 – Admitting That You Are Good

Today is IWSG day. Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the other writers who support each other, make us all smile and think in this monthly hop. No one is mocked or sneered at. All are welcome. We have all been there:


The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG will be Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard! 

The 2016 Ossian award, named for the legendary Seannachie of Finn McCool, will be awarded this night to one of the finalists in the year-long contest.

It is the night everyone has been awaiting. One hundred and twenty-five authors have gathered, along with two thousand people, to learn who will be the winner…  You see the happy fans crowding at the border of the red carpet…  The flash of cameras…

The Ossian Award

Who will it be?  The entries have been read and shared and judged.

The Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in an Irish kilt with the O’Shaughnessy tartan (Shaughnessy being the Irish name for ‘Seannachie’ or ‘Bard’)

The name is announced…  The sudden silence is shattered by waves of cheering as the winner steps up to the podium.

She exchanges a ceremonious embrace with the MC, takes the award, a bust of the Seannachie, Ossian, looks at it, sets it down, and steps up to the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen.  It is with great pleasure that I accept the Magical Words award!” she says as a wave of applause fills the amphitheatre.  

She continues, “There were so many entered in this contest, seeking this prize, so many years of dreams and endeavors, reams of printer paper and gallons of ink, ballpoint or otherwise…   The sheer work that lies behind all those who entered this contest, whether or not they made the final few…”  

The audience murmurs appreciatively as the winner takes the award between her hands, looks deep into its eyes, and says, “And it’s about time that you came to me!”   

She said What???

The murmurs stop as though they have been cut off.   People stare, papers rustle, frowns begin to deepen.   …And she stands, the statuette in her hand, smiling imperturbably while various people resolve never to read a thing she writes, ever again.

So… what’s wrong with this picture?  Too brassy?  Demeaning?   In what way?   Was she speaking the truth as she knew it?  And if she did, what was wrong with that?

Well, there are ways and ways of saying things.  Arrogance is  never a good idea, but it is as big a lie as overdone modesty of the ‘Gee, it wasn’t any good at all’ sort.

I remember once hearing a talk that moved me profoundly.  When next I saw the professor who was the speaker, I told him, shyly, that his talk had meant very much to me, that it had given me much pleasure and comfort, and made me think of things in a different way.  All of this was earnestly sincere.

I remember that he stared and said, “Well, it really was not one of my better presentations…”  (Did that make me a liar, or simply tasteless?)

This is my thought for this month’s IWSG:   Are we wrong to acknowledge our own abilities?

I don’t think so.  We shouldn’t be shouting about how great we are, but by the same token it is fine to admit that maybe we are good enough for someone to entrust hours of his precious time reading our work.  

And it isn’t such a bad thing to be happy with ourselves even as we continue to try to improve.


33 comments on “IWSG March 2, 2016 – Admitting That You Are Good

  1. Hi Diana – excellent piece … we don't need to brag, but if we can be comfortable with our achievements – that's important.Cheers Hilary

  2. Diana Wilder says:

    Hi, Hilary – I think there's a certain satisfaction that is a reward in itself.

  3. M.J. Fifield says:

    No, it isn't a bad thing to be comfortable with one's self or one's achievements. I'm not sure I'll ever be at that point, personally, but it's a good thing for which to aim.

  4. Diana Wilder says:

    The thing is, you are allowing yourself to acknowledge that you have talent. That doesn't mean that you are going to say 'Hey, I have talent!' and do nothing else. It is saying, 'I have something to offer, and I'm doing my best, and I'll keep on trying.'

  5. Someone has to believe in us. It should probably be us. lol

  6. Diana Wilder says:

    LOL!I remember an elder telling me, “You know, in addition to loving your neighbor, you do have to love yourself. …That doesn't mean you have to think you're perfect!”

  7. cleemckenzie says:

    It's probably how we acknowledge them and not so much that we do. Some people can say how great they are and endear others to them. Me, not so much. Loved your story today.

  8. Good Post, Diana. Arrogance is a shortcoming & not endearing like you said. Although, it works well in some of our stories, right? I try to be honest and humble and I write to entertain and I hope to thank readers for their support. Could you imagine if Leo accepting the Oscar said, “Well, I deserved this award six times over. I'm the best actor in Hollywood.” Uh-oh!

  9. Diana Wilder says:

    In my case, first I have to be fabulous before I can say so. Although, someone saying “Do you want some feedback? I'm pretty good with characterization (or whatever).” I haven't said that, either…

  10. Diana Wilder says:

    Maybe the acid test of attitude is having someone come up to you and say, “I read XXX and I really, really loved it! It made me cry (or stay up all night). It was so good!” and you either shrug and say thank you, or you say thank you, maybe say you're really glad they liked it and then, once they have gone, sit where you are with a quivering smile on your face.

  11. Beth says:

    Right. Because if it doesn't make us happy, why do it?

  12. Fantastic post! It can be hard enough to acknowledge your abilities and strengths to yourself, let alone shout it out to the world. I like your sentiment about being happy with yourself even while you try to improve. Seems to strike a good balance between self-confidence and acknowledging that further growth can be had. Cheers – Ellen

  13. It's good to focus on the positives. We should be allowed to feel a certain pleasure at our accomplishments. And also good to keep a level head and know there's always room for improvement. Great post.

  14. Diana Wilder says:

    That's true. Generally, I've found, if we enjoy something, others will, as well. And there is, as well, with our writing, a little of the joy we get when we place a well-prepared meal in front of loved ones. 🙂

  15. Diana Wilder says:

    A sort of 'so far so good…' seems to fit the bill.Thanks for coming by!

  16. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you, Beverly! It's important to notice (for yourself) what you have done right, and to savor the things that show that you are moving, however slowly, toward your aims.

  17. Diana Wilder says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Yvette Carol says:

    What I object to about that professor's answer to you, was that he didn't listen to you. He basically said, in his attitude, “I'm more important than you.” I think a person who delivers a speech in any sort of situation, or even – gasp – in conversation, should be thinking about the other person or people as well as themselves. The professor was more caught up in his own story than receiving that beautiful moment of appreciation. How sad for him. It's like that Taylor Swift song, where she says she'll have evolved and moved on, while 'you'll only ever be mean.' Thought-provoking, piece, Diana.

  19. Anonymous says:

    In a slough of self doubt it was good to read your post and some of the comments it generated. I've re motivated myself by enjoying the writing and telling myself a story. If I publish my sequel and anyone else likes it that will be a bonus. X

  20. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you, Lynda R Young. I always thought that criticism should include acknowledging what has been done well. Modesty involves not shouting about it.

  21. Diana Wilder says:

    That is a very insightful way of putting it, Yvette. I hadn't considered it that way, and you are right. Dorothy Sayers broke down a work of creation into three components: The Idea behind the work, the Energy that makes the work exist and then, very importantly, the Response (she called it 'power') that it caused in the hearers/ readers/ viewers. A work of mine may leave me disgusted, but it may 'speak' to another in a way I had not expected. (I hope!) Thank you!

  22. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you, Kritsayvonne – If you write and publish a sequel, it will be a very good thing!

  23. I love what Woody Allen said when he was asked how he became such a successful artist.”I just showed up! I did the work, showed up, and got lucky.”

  24. Diana Wilder says:

    That's a great story! I'll have to remember it. Modest, humorous… Thanks!

  25. Fundy Blue says:

    Loved this post, Diana! How much it was drummed into my head not to blow my own horn! I think that professor could have been more gracious ~ he should have spent some time as an elementary teacher to learn a little humanity! But then maybe he didn't know how to take a complement. I'm always ridiculously excited when someone likes my writing, but I rarely admit I am a good writer, well maybe even excellent. Have a good one.

  26. We should be proud of what we accomplish. Not boastful, but we need to acknowledge our proficiency in the gifts we have been given.

  27. Diana Wilder says:

    I just think, “Well, I love to write and I enjoy what I write… Maybe others will, too?” And, like you, when someone says they do, I can't stop smiling. (From my reading, you're excellent.)

  28. Diana Wilder says:

    As they say, honesty is the best policy (but tempered with real modesty, not false.) Thanks for visiting!

  29. dolorah says:

    If I won an award for my writing, I'd also be like “its about freaking time!”

  30. Diana Wilder says:

    …and I'd be there applauding you!

  31. Lexa Cain says:

    Sounds like something Hemingway would say (or write about). I think we should acknowledge our abilities as long as we also acknowledge our flaws and the areas where we could improve. Knowing where our strengths lie and concentrating on them is probably the best way to find our “voice” and appeal to our niche audiences. Great scene and post! 🙂

  32. Diana Wilder says:

    I don't know where we got the notion that modesty consists of speaking ill of ourselves.

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