Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do You Trust Your Intuition?

Two years ago, my son wouldn’t stop fevering and had an itchy rash all over his body. I went to the doctor and in just a few minutes, they diagnosed him with scarlet fever, even though his strep test was negative. I took him home and started the antibiotic regimen, but two days later, his fever persisted. My husband wanted me to wait it out, let the antibiotics go to work, but I insisted something was wrong.
So, we took him back to the clinic and saw a different PA, who thought my son had Kawasaki’s Disease. I had heard a little about the disease before and knew John Travolta’s son had it as a child. It scared me to death because I knew if it wasn’t Kawasaki’s it was something bad. We did some blood work and by the next day, we were on our way to the children’s hospital with one of the strongest cases of Kawasaki's our doctor had seen.
Kawasaki’s is rare and so much is unknown about it. In order for it to be considered Kawasaki’s a child has to have a high fever for five days, spots on the tongue, persistent rash over the body, red eyes, peeling of hands and feet, cracked lips, swollen lymph nodes, etc. In my son’s case, he needed to have five of the previous symptoms in order to receive treatment. The docs also rule out other “like” illnesses, but for the most part, it is a guessing game.
The tricky part of this disease is catching in time. It’s estimated that if treatment isn’t received within fourteen days heart damage is almost certain. I was lucky. Through persistence and a PA who paid attention to detail, my son received treatment and is healthy. So many times, however, we don’t trust our instincts or let others talk us out of what we know or believe.
Although the health and well-being of our children is far different thing from writing instincts, I wanted to use this example to show persistence and intuition mean a lot. I can’t tell you how many times doctors have told me to wait and see what happens with a certain illness. “Call me in seven to ten days.” Well, if I would’ve waited that long, my son’s life would be dramatically different.
In writing, we use beta readers to test our story's worth. Sometimes we get great feedback--good or bad--and sometimes we don't. We can't please everyone, nor will everyone like what we do. I haven't been in one book club that every reader has a consensus. We all pull so many different things from any situation, and it's up to us to decide what we cut, add, or embellish. I think it was Stephen King who said the tie goes to the writer.
Do you trust your gut when it comes to writing? Do you try to please your beta readers to the point of losing “you” in your work?

19 comments:

Craziness abounds said...

lol well you know that's always been my moto.. It's your baby ultimatly so you get to decide what stays of goes. Good for you. Good post.

Amy said...

I do not claim to be a writer. However I get mad at myself for trying to please everyone and I DO lose myself or part of myself in the long run.
Then, of course, there is the nagging feeling of "I caved".

Glad to hear all is well with your son. Ironically, I am writing a post similar to this. ;)

Carol Riggs said...

Whew, glad you found out in time about your son!

I do trust my instincts on changing things. Usually the things my critters mention are the things I've already had a nagging feeling about. :)

Austin James said...

I believe in always trusting your gut - beta readers might offer some advice... but your gut can tell you whether it's good or bad advice.

Shelley Batt said...

I too had a similar situation with my child. I trusted my instincts and he didn't need surgery. I also try to trust my instincts in writing. It's hard especially because I'm so new to it. Great post!

Sierra Gardner said...

Always trust your instincts. My little sister was really sick when I was little and it was my mom's persistence that saved her life. With writing, the same principle applies. As long as you know that you are someone who can reasonably and objectively listen to good advice, then accept critiques but follow your gut on what needs to be done.

Devin Bond said...

For awhile I used to trust others more than I trusted myself but I'm learning to trust my intuition like I did before I wrote with someone. Good post! A mother's intuition is always a good thing to have!

Danielle Rose said...

Wow, beautiful post. I love the comparison between a mother's intuition and writing intuition. We must learn to trust our gut feelings, because our bodies and our hearts usually DO know best.

AllMyPosts said...

Hey, thanks for this post!!!

And am happy that your son is diagnosed and treated before it is too late!! I trust my instincts however weird they are!!

with warm regards
http://becomingprince.blogspot.com

Janice Horton said...

A powerful post with an even more powerful example. I try to trust my gut as a writer and absolutely trust my gut as a mother - so what does that prove? The point you were just making. My lovely mentor, Anita Burgh, insists that IV (inner voice) is all you need as a writer - and it seems - as a mother too.
Great post.xx

Susan Kane said...

Your son was so fortunate to have you as his mother. Moms and writers have to be almost a vigilante when it comes to our babies, our creation. You are tenacious.

Christine Tyler said...

Ah, good reminder to trust ourselves when it comes right down to it. Thanks!

Christina Fifield-Winn said...

This is the second time today I've heard about beta readers. Are they friends and family, or is that an actual job?? Someone please help me out! I could use a few beta readers for my stuff!

M Pax said...

I hope your son is feeling better.

I've learned what to ask for from my critique partners. If they rewrite me, I ignore it. If they tell me they're confused or trip up, I pay attention.

Luke Raftl said...

This is something I learned fairly quickly, fairly recently. It's easy to put too much faith in others' advice. At the end of the day, you are the writer of the story, no one else; listen to advice, weigh it up against your own feelings and the feelings of others, and make a logical, rational decision.

I think this may be the one part of writing where emotion plays a negative role. Writing is yours: your characters, your story, your settings. Advice can be great, but at the end of the day if it goes against all your instincts, let it pass!

olivecollins said...

great post. eliminate everybody and everything then go with your gut. It's an innate instinct that we occasionally overlook.
Olive
http://olivecollins.wordpress.com

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I remember how scary that was. I'm so glad you took him in again.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post and lovely blog. I'm so glad you trusted your motherly instinct! But we do tend, sometimes, to let other people get in the way of our own intuition, as writers and women.
http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com

TheDLBurton said...

When it comes to my writing I trust what sounds right, especially when it comes to dialogue. I also trust my gut because the gut does not lie. Of course I also trust the people in the workshop classes I partake in, all three of them, including my Creative Writing II class.
thedlburton.blogspot.com