June 2, 2016
What are my chances? The question Jane Friedman hates the most, and why I agree with her philosophy of not answering:
What I think is important for people to understand is how empowering not getting a purely definitive answer is, because it gives YOU some degree of control. Absolutely, expert opinions are vital pieces of information on which to base decisions and actions, but at least those decisions and actions are yours and not thrust upon you by some rigid categorization that’s really unknowable anyway.
As a chiropractor, I try to express this to people every day. Yes, you have an injury and/or some degree of degenerative change in your spine, hip, shoulder (reality), that is something you will likely always need to manage (educated opinion), but there are LOADS of tools for your box to do so (medical therapies, alternative therapies, lifestyle choices, etc), and new ones being developed all the time. There will always be some progression of degeneration and limitation of matter, but at least you have some say in your prognosis.
As a writer, I sought an assessment of my memoir from a professional editor, which is more subjective than spinal degeneration for sure, but she delivered, not with it’s great or it sucks, or a scale of 1-10, but by saying “the bones are there” (as close to a literary x-ray as you can get, I think) but it needs work if publication is the goal (educated opinion), and these are some strengths, and these are some weaknesses to manage. (She didn’t need to tell me about the LOADS of tools in a writer’s box!) There will always be hurdles in writing, and limitations of ability, but at least I have some say about what my memoir will ultimately look like, and what my goals for it are in the first place.
As a person, I’ve felt challenged, but in control and hopeful, and I’ve felt utterly out of control and hopeless. It’s like the difference between climbing a mountain with proper gear and clear, if unpredictable, weather, and being buried alive. Control takes responsibility and effort, but I’ll take a mountain any day.