Sunday, May 16, 2010

You Should See My...

I think most writers have a tendency to self-efface. Maybe I'm a masochist, but I find it easier to receive constructive criticism than praise. Even to the extent that I don't believe people who only offer praise. ("Oh, she'll read anything," "They're just saying that so I'll read they're stuff.")

In my family, the tendency is practically a personality trait. Talent seems to flow like a river through my gene pool, and although none of us believe we ourselves are talented, we are more than willing to tell you about other people in the family.

So, today, that's what I'm going to do. (This sort of counts as More About Me Monday, right?) Okay, then.

I have at least three aunts or uncles, and one cousin who have supported themselves as freelance artists. The rest of them (and there are eight, including my mom) can only draw well enough to get scholarships to art programs, reproduce famous art flawlessly, or give you a Bart Simpson tattoo if the need arises. As any of them, and they'll say, "Yeah, but you should see my _________." Fill in the blank with your choice: brother, sister, nephew....

My mom is a seamstress extraordinaire. I could go on about the Halloween costumes and beautiful dresses she made me as a child, but the real proof is in the fact that she has made wedding dresses for about a dozen of the young women I know, mine included. You don't hand over your wedding dress to just anyone with a sewing machine.

My grandfather, my aunt, and another cousin are all poets so talented you'd wonder why they haven't been named editors of poetry journals--oh, except they'd never submit their work for that sort of thing, because they'll all tell you they aren't as good as __________. (Sidenote: one of them--I won't say who for his/her sanity's sake--has originated the Twitter trend #almostpoetry, in which s/he tweaks famous poetry for hilarious results. My attempts are not so hot, but if you want a good snort now and again, follow @borogroves)

All of which brings me to my point today: My cousin has started a blog and etsy store for her amazing paper crafts. Knowing full well that I could not and would not ever create a scrapbook for my son when he was born, she made me a blank scrap book that only required me to drop in the 4x6 photos. It was the hit of my baby shower, and I think these pictures will show you why:

** try not to be distracted by the cuteness of my son. I know, it's hard, but you're looking at the pages people!

She, however, is convinced that anyone's interest in her work could only be a sign of the coming apocalypse because she is so clearly not deserving of anyone's admiration. The way she sees it, her talent is about a -1 on the scale of 0-10, 0 being "can walk and chew gum at the same time" and 10 being "sings, dances, paints, writes poetry and does competent small engine repair."

This is my public objection to her self-depricating nonsense. Wanna help me? Heart her store, if you're an etsy shopkeeper, follow her blog if you're a frenzied parent, or follow her on Twitter if you're neither of those things.

And, in return, I promise not to pimp out my family to you anymore.

Do you, as a writer, or whatever you might be, suffer from "Yeah, But You Should See My _______" Disease, too?

- Liz


MJ Heiser said...

Great. My need to conceive has increased, so I can send everyone willy-nilly to this Etsy store for shower presents.


Lay off my reproductive urges, willya?

Kristan said...

Actually, I'm modest/humble, but not necessarily self-effacing... I have a healthy amount of confidence in myself and in my writing, I just try not to be obnoxious about it. (Because I don't want to annoy people, and I don't want to jinx anything!)

That said, I think self-effacation (is that a word?? I don't think so...) is totally normal.

I would hope, though, that you know just how talented you are, and that you can be the first to break your family's bad habit. Maybe you'll start a chain reaction!

Eleven Eleven said...

I'm smart and talented, and not at all self-effacing, but you should meet my brothers.

One dropped out of school in eighth grade, yet got his GED and into college no problem, and just took the MCAT this month. He's going into brain research. He simplifies it all for me, but I still feel like a special ed student every time I talk to him.

My other brother is a professional artist and does big time graphic design. He recently created the Holiday Inn Express logo. I draw stick figures; there's no comparison.

cheshirerabbit said...

I think I suffer from this disease to an extent, though I'm entirely sure I count: I'm part of the family. In fact, I've even brought up your mother's talent in sewing before. As to my own talent, I'm not entirely sure what it is. I love writing, but given that I'm most of the way through a novel but completely unaware as to any way I could possibly get published..that's a long time in coming.

Plus, I go to the same College as mom. And no matter how hard I try, I just can't live up to her 4.0 average. Oh well...I guess if anyone thinks I'm good, you should see my mother/aunt/cousins/family! =p