I sent this photo to my parents during a recent trip to the coast, because “Kelly loves to learn” is a long-standing joke in my family. I’ve been learning-avoidant for as long as I can remember. Even way back in first grade, I asked my mom how many more years I would have to attend school, and her answer made me burst into tears.
But the fact is I need to learn, as much as I rebel against it. This became clear to me after I wrote a couple of novels (without any real knowledge of how to write novels), then read them over and thought, The stories are good. But these do not sound like books. Crap. I have to go learn something.
So I signed up for a novel-writing class, and I learned. A lot. It was most unpleasant. When loved ones read your writing, they say, “This is wonderful!” but when strangers read it, you get feedback more along these lines:
“You have about a thousand adverbs in the first ten pages. That’s lazy writing.”
“I’m drowning in your gerund phrases.”
“I think this character makes better sense in your head than he does on the page.”
Thankfully, I’m a Leo, and we take criticism really well. Yes, sir. With grace and ease.
AH HA HA HA HA HA!
HA HA HA HA HA HA!
HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!
In other words – no, Leos do not take criticism well. We lash out, claws and fangs bared, then crawl into a private corner to sulk and lick our wounds. When we’re ready, we creep back into the world, glaring at everyone. I call that process “learning,” which may be why I have such a fiercely negative, visceral reaction to the word.
“Learning, eh? Is that the thing where I prove my inadequacy and someone points it out? Because I don’t like that.”
I need a new way to describe the process of stuffing information into my brain. A few years ago, my husband started to call parties “human gathering events,” because he’d noticed that whenever he said the word “party,” I said the word “no.” So I suppose I could rebrand learning in a similar fashion. Perhaps I’ll call it “knowledge acquisition.” That sounds much better. Sophisticated, yet non-confrontational.
With the dastardly word thus rebranded, I will try my damnedest to commit to a lifetime of knowledge acquisition, because something I’ve learned (blech) through the novel-writing process is that the acquisition of knowledge takes our passions from this:
While the first one’s pretty cool, the second one’s got a whole lot more going on. It’s billowy, pointy, and fuzzy all at once. Lovely. Plus it can feed bees, and without bees, we are all screwed.