Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I went axe throwing for a THIRD time on Friday night. Please know that the first time was a surprise visit and this third time was to celebrate a very good friend's last day of taking blood-thinners which was what HE wanted to do (it was NOT my idea!). I tried to explain to him that there was NO chance that an axe was going to lodge in his foot or any other part of his body and require clot-making platelets, but he still held fast to the axe-throwing concept.
When we got there, I had a short conversation with Grizz, the gentleman who would be our axe-throwing facilitator.
"I'm not good at this," I said, fully aware that I could add a YET to that sentence, but also intentional about leaving that growth-mindset attitude out of my self-presentation. It was easier to just own my ineptitude rather than suggest that I had hope of becoming better at lodging a blade in a square of splintering pine.
"What do you mean?" Grizz asked.
"I've done this twice," I said. "I've had it stick once, total. It's not my sport."
"I'll get you up and running," he said.
I wasn't sure what to say. I appreciated his optimism, but I also didn't want to disappoint him. The other facilitators had said similar things. I might have been a tougher project than they thought I'd be.
Just as I predicted, I showed no axe throwing prowess. My first attempt lofted high over the target, and Grizz told me to follow through. My second try ricocheted down toward the ground, and we all laughed as it spun and slid back toward me. (Maybe you shouldn't be on blood-thinners when you're throwing axes.) My daughter Julia and I talked about the overall axe-throwing experience on Sunday, and she pointed out that one of the problems for her was that she was never given enough time to practice and figure it out. Two throws and then a long wait while others took their turn just didn't lead to any sort of mastery. She was trying to make me feel better, and I appreciated that, and she also had a point...
If you are expecting a happy ending to this story, you're going to get one, but not because I started throwing bulls' eyes. I was with my best friends, we had great food, a lot of beer, and the night was paid for long in advance.
And, if you're expecting me to make some connections to students and writing, you're going to get that to. Collective efficacy has one of the strongest correlations with growth and achievement according to John Hattie's studies about visible learning and what leads to learning. Last Friday evening, at Montana Nights, we all believed that I could not throw an axe effectively. Fortunately for me, I didn't really care and it didn't really matter. But that's not true for writing. When we believe and the writing community believes and the writer believes that they're not so good at writing, then guess what? They're not.
We don't get many opportunities to experience these situations and make these sorts of connections, but when we do, it's worth reflecting on and wondering about. As Julia said, we need time to practice, approximate, adjust, and figure out what works for ourselves. And we also need people, including ourselves, to believe that we can do it. Otherwise, it's simply more fun to do other things.