Monday, September 19, 2011

Thick Skin, Random Facts, & Giveaway Winners

Thick skin – elephants are born with it. We human beings on the other hand, have to work hard to develop it. For me, in everyday life, as well as the writing life, a big part of toughening up was allowing myself to be human. Giving myself permission to make mistakes, experience failures, and even to speak them out loud or put them down on the page.

I was quite possibly one of the most pitifully thin-skinned people ever. A disgruntled motorist flipped me off in traffic, I would cry. The mailman scoffed as I greeted him, I would cry. The bank teller responded to me with sarcasm, I would wonder what was wrong with me. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I can’t control anyone else. I can only control my reactions to my circumstances. If I’m feeling offended, it’s because I’ve allowed myself to feel offended. If I’m feeling discouraged, it’s because I’ve allowed myself to feel that way. And really, it’s not me against the world. It’s us – in this hugely overwhelming thing called life – together. That realization helps me in my writing life to persevere with submissions, and in my everyday life it helps me survive.

Do you have a thin skin/thick skin story to share?

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Two of my lovely fellow campaigners have nominated me for awards I'd like to thank Alynza Smith for passing along the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award and Ms Saba for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.


By accepting the awards, I agree to:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated me.
2. Share seven random facts about myself.
3. Pass the award on to 5 blogger friends.
4. Contact and congratulate the nominated blogs.

Here are the seven random facts about me:

1. I get stuck on music for long periods of time. I listened to Keane's Hopes and Fears for so long that my sister couldn't stand to ride in my car anymore.

2. I like fast food just as much, (if not more) than fine dining.

3. I grew up thinking I was a good cook because my father always loved everything I made. I now realize he was kinder and more generous than I ever realized.

4. Before this whole carpal tunnel thing I could type 90+ words per minute. Now – I don't even want to think about it.

5. When I eat PB&J, I spread peanut butter on one slice of bread, fold it in half, spread jelly on another slice of bread, and fold that in half. The two never come together. Then I eat them by alternating – a bite from the peanut butter, then a bite from the jelly. I have never actually tried putting the two together. I don’t know why.

6. Villette by Charlotte Bronte is one of my favorite books ever.

7. I like tiny snacks because I can eat lots of them without feeling guilty. M & Ms, Skittles, Chocolate Chips, Jelly Beans. . . yummmmm.

I’d like to pass these awards on to:

Carry Us Off Books – Claudine talks about books in ways that make you think about them even more than you already did.
Carrie Boo – because she cracks me up.
Julie Farrar – writer, photographer, every day mom, and wife, who –even though I just met her through the campaign- makes me feel like I'm sitting across the table having a chat with a good friend.
Jen Klein – posts that are short on words but big on personality.
Junebug – because those cute little ladybugs appear next to every comment. Could there be anything cooler than that?

* * *
Now, to everyone who joined in the celebration of my daughter's book blog launch, I offer a great big THANK YOU!
The winners of the book giveaway are:

Awaken goes to:  Abby!

The Book Thief goes to: Dawn Malone!

A Crooked Kind of Perfect goes to: Caroline Tung!

CONGRATULATIONS and thank you for helping my daughter and I celebrate Born Bookish!

I will be contacting the winners later today.

For another giveaway, visit MG & YA writer, Marcia Hoehne's blog where she's holding a critique giveaway!


  1. I don't have a thin skin as such, but I cry very easily which often means people think they have upset me, when I'm actually more likely to be mad as hell!

  2. Congrats on your awards!!

    As for thick skin, the story I always relate is about some of my first ever harsh critique. It was REALLY harsh, and basically I couldn't get to sleep afterwards. I lay there in bed tormented by what this person had said. She hadn't had anything good to say about my writing at all. Others had critiqued me honestly, but had always thrown something 'nice' in there too. For all that though, this harsh or 'mean' feedback was the stuff that stuck with me and prompted me to change the way I'd started my manuscript. Basically it led to me cutting out 7k of unnecessary words from the start of my novel.

    So I guess that while it hurt (a LOT) at the time, it taught me a valuable lesson. And it helped me develop thicker skin, too!

    I guess I can thank that mean girl now. hehe

  3. I used to have a very thin skin as well. The littlest unkindnesses could bring me to tears, not unlike yourself. I have gotten tougher over the years, but I'm still abnormally sensitive. I've had to learn, too, to give myself permission to be human and to remember that you can only control yourself and your actions.

    PS: Congrats on your blog awards! :-) You have my sympathies vis a vis the carpal tunnel - I'm sure I'll be dealing with that, too, in the not-too-distant future.

  4. I've always been a very sensitive child. I set very high expectations of myself even as a small child. Once a teacher had to tell me to turn around in my chair and stop talking, and I cried. And still remember it! Gah.

    But my thin/thick skin story is pretty unjust, actually. When I was twenty-seven and my marriage was crumbling, my husband turned cruel and verbally abusive. Then I discovered he had been cheating on me. I went to my church elders for support and counsel, and, while they were compassionate and "kind," suggested I may have been too sensitive about the things he said and perhaps needed to grow a thicker skin.

    I look back on that and to this day believe he was abusive and they were completely wrong to give me that advice. But I also decided I probably needed a thicker skin to survive in this lousy world. And I started to change ... not to become heartless, but to change the way I reacted to things. And I discovered that when you refuse to accept the "meaning" behind negative actions, and just view them as random actions, they lose nearly all power over you.

    And that is INCREDIBLY empowering.

    I also listened to that Keane CD nonstop for a few months. :)

    @Sarah, I cry when I'm angry, too!

  5. Congratulations on the award, Ruth, and congrats to all the winners!

    It depends. I can have extremely thin skin about myself. If someone says something deliberately hurtful, it will eat at me. However, in regards to my writing, I have developed a semi-thick skin. I can take most things, though there are sometimes I close the critique and think, "Who am I kidding? I'm not a writer!"

  6. YAY! I'm so excited! And I am glad you did this - not only for the giveaway but to find another awesome blog to visit! So cool!

  7. I have calloused thin skin, I think. ;-) I think I like fast food better than fine dining too, and I love mini muffins for the same reason you like M&M's, etc. There's just something fun about eating a bunch of small ones! :)

  8. Hi! I am so excited to win that book! It looks awesome. I don't know why I can't find your email link. :( ugh - I guess it's just Monday! My email is abfowers[at]msn[dot]com
    If you want to shoot me an email I will give you my address! Thanks again. This was a fun giveaway!

  9. Getting critiqued has definitely been a learning experience over the last nine years. As long as critiques give me something to work with instead of blanket, unhelpful statements like 'this is bad' or 'totally unmarketable', I'm fine with it. I've developed a thick enough that only a really callous comment would affect me. And even then, I wouldn't break down. I'd just chalk it up to that person being rude.
    BTW, thanks SO much for the book!

  10. Hi Ruth,

    (I finally signed up for a google account just so I could leave comments on blogs like yours! =) I love the energy here. I really do ...)

    Thank you so much for the awards and your kind words on CarryUsOff's blog. I'll be sure to pass these awards on to 5 other writer friends.

    I used to have tissue-paper thin skin, and would flinch when a man raises his voice ever so slightly. Being a writer (with all that marketing to do) has pushed me out and toughened me up. A bit.

    I'm still soft-spoken and shy, but not too afraid to seek what I want anymore. I read that a lot of us here are also (or used to be) softies. Thank goodness for Writing which has made us more confident than before!

  11. I'm lucky to have a thick skin most of the time (despite my recent blog melt down). I learned early on to let the little stuff go when I could. The flip side is that I was more jaded than most of the kids around me, but it got me through middle grade and high school.

    Hope your skin gets thicker, without adding a jaded layer to it!

  12. Thanks for the recognition, Ruth. I have no problem as a writer developing the thick skin. Having taught writing for so many years I know what it takes to get better. However, my problem with thick skin comes as a parent. When my kids were acting like little (fill in the blank), I would take it as my failure as a parent. What did I do so wrong to make them behave so badly? Now I've learned the lesson you've learned -- I can't control their behavior but I can control my reaction. It makes life easier.

  13. You may be thin skinned, but you are certainly not thin on creativity. I'd never have thought about eating PB&J as two separate entities. Highly imaginative!

  14. Congrats on your awards! I love tiny snack too for the same reason :) And I am totally thin-skinned. I can't think of specific stories because they happen all the time!

  15. Sarah - I cry when I get mad too!

    Trisha - I'm glad you were able to pull something poitive from that harsh critique. Took the sting out (a bit) I'll bet.

    Crystal - We wound a lot alike ;) There are some stretches that you can do to try to prevent carpal tunnel. I wish I had thought to do them before. Google "carpal tunnel exercises" before it's too late!

    Kelly - Sounds like a very painful experience. Good for you for learning from it and finding the power in that life lesson.

    Cat - I know just what you mean. There are days when I'm convinced I'm completely delusional to think I could write a novel.

    Abby - I mailed your book out today!

    Jenifer - Oooooo mini muffins. I'll have to try those ;)

    Dawn - Sounds like you have a great attitude about critiques. I think I can handle "meanness" in regards to my writing better than I handle it in life in general.

    Claudine - So good to see you here! I'm so glad you got the google account and can join in the conversation here. Yay! I'm still soft spoken and shy too, but writing is good for toughening us up, isn't it?! I believe it has really made me a better person.

    Ani - middle school and high school were tough for sure. I hated those years. If we could make it through that, we can handle anything! ;)

    Julie - I hadn't thought of it in terms of parenting before. I guess there are many different ways we can learn the same lesson.

    C. Lee - Imaginative, I'm glad you think so. Yes, I'll spin it like that next time my kids roll their eyes at me. Not quirky or strange - imaginative!

    Susanna - Another tiny snack lover. Yay!

  16. Congrats on the awards! I had to laugh about the PB&J thing. Too funny because it sounds like something I would do.

  17. I love elephants! I try to emulate them and keep my thick skin firmly in place, but it's tough (oops, pun NOT intended). Congrats on the awards and congrats to the book winners!

  18. Kelly - Thanks. Yeah, one day I will try the peanut butter and jelly together - maybe.

    Brooke - Thanks. And good for you on that thick skin!

  19. Becoming a journalist thickened up my skin in a hurry. Between the editorial slash sessions and the p.o.'d people who didn't like the story and the flamethrowing blog commenters, well, there was no time to even think about whether my feelings were hurt. The downside is, when you have thick skin, you kind of expect everyone else to have it too, so you tend to be a bit more, well, blunt. Which is not always appreciated.

  20. Ruth, that was a great piece on dealing with the everyday slings and arrows we all face. I enjoyed reading it. When I run into some of the folks you describe, I try to remind myself that their behavior is off-base and most likely has nothing to do with the recipient of their ill humor. That's just their way of dealing with their own trouble!

    I'm glad you liked the Poe quote and left a comment. The feedback makes the effort worth it. Thank you!

  21. Crocodile skin. That's how I think of myself when I am sending out my work for crits. I have had my feelings hurt though. But I have learned long go to know that I know that I know I can write and write well. So now? They still hurt, but as soon as I'm finished reading them, I let them go.

    Congrads on the award and congrads to the ones you honored. :-)

  22. I have notoriously thin skin. I think it's why I took so long to start a blog. I've always been terrified of someone seeing my mistakes.

    I finally decided to stop worrying about it. And I'm glad I did. I've learned so much since then.

  23. Hey Ruth - just letting you know that this post of yours inspired one of my own, here:

  24. I gave you a mention on my blog for being so generous. Thanks again.

  25. Gail - I had never thought about how thick skin would affect how someone gives a critique. Good point.

    Gary - So glad blogger finally cooperated in allowing you to comment. So pleased you stopped by. I agree, the feedback makes it worthwhile.

    Robyn - Yes, being able to let thing go quickly is the next best thing to not being hurt at all.

    F.E. - So glad you found the courage to jump into the blogosphere. I understand completely. I resisted for a long time, as well.

    Trish - Yay! Thanks for letting me know.

    Julie - Great choices for passing along the awards.