Thursday, April 14, 2016

Riding the Learning Curve

Watching my son-in-law try to dress our first granddaughter for her ride home from the hospital was painful. He gingerly tried to trap one of her flailing fists to gently guide her hand through a darling pink jumpsuit. The fist eluded him. He acted like she was made of frozen glass spider webs. Finally, I could take it no more; backing him away from the baby, I grabbed her fist and shoved it through the sleeve of her outfit; first one and then repeat. She was dressed in less than a minute.

The learning curve to dressing a newborn baby isn’t steep, but it is real, and it’s a pattern for the rest of our ever-learning lives. Just about the time you’re pretty sure you know stuff, the stuff changes and becomes a baby with twitchy hands or a book that needs formatting.

In nothing is this more evident than in the shifting world of social media and the Internet.

I no longer have babies that resemble my husband. I have graduated to making babies that resemble “War and Peace,” only a lot shorter. I write novels. They are like my babies, and I want you to read them—not read to them.

When people ask me what I write, I say, “Yes.”

The learning curve associated with writing books is varied and curvy. First, you learn how to keep your baby safe from the black hole of Where did it go? I know I hit the save button! And then you progress all the way up to books on audio, where you’re interviewing actors to read your book—on tape!

It’s not hard, but there’s some tech stuff and a bit of a learning curve. That’s what I’ve been told.

So let’s discuss what is meant by “learning curve.”

1. It means that you are empty of answers—also ignorant. How do you grab a baby’s jerky little hand? Will it hurt the baby? Are babies made of frozen glass spider webs? Is CreateSpace run by elves? Why does my formatting look like reformed Egyptian? 
2. You are not stupid because you are ignorant, but you will feel stupid.
3. The feeling of stupid will give way to the feeling of intense, painful frustration because people will start explaining how to ride the learning curve, using words you will not understand.
4. If your learning curve is anything like algebra and it will be; those that know will use words you don’t understand over and over again, getting louder and louder, until you pretend to “get it.” When they say, “See?” You shout, “Of course.” Then cry.
5. After a zillion hours of riding the learning curve of ___________________ (fill in the blank) you will acquire a certain level of proficiency.
6. Then THEY will change the program, the coding, or the rules.

The good news is that learning curve stuff is good for me, and writing books is like having a baby made by my brain. It keeps me young. It keeps me sharp. It keeps me in the game. Otherwise, I might never have been able to figure out how to stick a baby’s hand through one of those tight, clingy, little sleeves.

Linda (Sit Tight) Zern 

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