Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Attitude is Everything


Last week I did something mean, and you can read about it here. I’m contritely sorry if I robbed you of sleep when I didn’t reveal the most important thing to bring to the ACFW conference. But I told you I’d share the topic today and here it is!

The most important thing to bring to the conference is … ready?

Packing up the necessary items for a writers' conference.

A teachable spirit

(Some of you even guessed it! Well done!) I think I take this attribute for granted, but it’s highly important. And I think  there are two different ways that an unteachable spirit show up. Maybe you can think of some more.

Wanting Approval

Not so long ago, I heard a radio program where the expert was asked a question about hydrangeas. He gave a full explanation about why they are hard to grow around here and what type of soil must be used to make it easier on the plants. Even went into detail about the size and drainage of the plot. The caller began interrupting. A little at first, then more, with her own thoughts. A good host, the expert considered her opinion a few times and how her ideas might work. She got to one that he didn’t think would work and began to explain why. She took over, expounding on why her plan for the bed would be perfect. Not rudely, or even condescending. And the expert let her finish then commented, “Alrighty then, enjoy your bed.”

I didn’t miss the you’ve made your bed, now lie in it impression. The problem wasn’t that the caller had been obnoxious. The problem was that the caller didn’t want to learn how to plant hydrangeas. She wanted the plan that she’d already worked out to be approved. I’ve seen it in critique groups – explaining or excusing – and I’ve read it in emails where experts have generously given their suggestions to novice writers.

If you talk too much and listen too little, you learn nothing at all. Tweet this!

Wanting Attention

It’s so easy to see it in other people, isn’t it? I don’t think any of us would think of ourselves as unteachable. But does the term novice-writer offend? I started not to use it. I’m not a novice! I’ve been writing for decades and serious about my craft for some time. Yet, as an unpubbed, I’m just a beginner. I don’t have experience despite the articles I’ve read or the lessons I’ve taken or even the workshops I’ve listened to on CD. And for me to think of myself as beyond a novice is a pride issue.

Hmmm. Yeah, I can see that. I’m not usually guilty of explaining or insisting, but I have been (and am often) guilty of constantly sharing my own ideas. I’m an idea person (what writer isn’t?!) Not that we don’t have good and worthwhile opinions, and I’ll share the from time to time, but I don’t want to be known as that newbie that never lets anyone else get a word in.

So I see having a teachable spirit as twofold: willing to truly listen and accept advice from others, and being judicious in any advice I offer. IE. … quick to hear, slow to speak … James 1:19

Your turn: Are there other things that deter a teachable spirit?

Here are those other articles I mentioned.

A Teachable Spirit by Lena Nelson Dooley
What do I Know? by Eileen Key
What NOT to Wear by Melissa Tagg
Checking Your Spiritual Packing List by Lisa Jordon
Experience with the ACFW Genesis Contest by Karen Witemeyer

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

6 thoughts on “Attitude is Everything

  1. Lovely post. I think we’re all guilty of falling into the pride/overconfidence trap. I have to say, though, that patience is a big part of it. Building a writing career doesn’t happen overnight, and the more patient you are, the more you’re able to stay still and listen to the guidance others and the universe are offering.


    • That’s going to be a true challenge for me, Denise, but I’ve been practicing. Even listened to sweet hubby and dear son chat about the Rangers for a half-hour. That should qualify me for something, right?


  2. Attitude is everything. Thanks for the reminder as I head head to my first writer’s meeting.