I don't always listen. Even in my more advanced age, I still act like a willful child and try my way first. Sometimes that’s a good idea, other times I pay a painful price for not heeding the advice of those more experienced.
One of those painful lessons happened recently. Writing pros suggest one of the best methods of self-editing and proofreading is to read the text aloud. I tried, but found the chore tedious, not to mention tough on the voice, and in my infinite wisdom decided to skip that part. Oh, I did submit the manuscript to my critique partner and to Beta Readers, but after implementing their suggestions and corrections, I took it upon myself to make some further changes. Not wrong, by any means, until I did the proofreading myself, without showing it to anyone else, or following the pros advice to read the new text aloud.
The result? I am now hanging my head in shame over simple mistakes that could have been avoided, if only I had listened to those who tried to advise me. I am going through each book and correcting the errors, but I cringe thinking about how many flawed copies are now floating around out there in cyberspace — forever — because of my laziness, not to mention stubbornness.
(Happy note: I have since discovered Microsoft Word's audio ability to read highlighted text. It's an amazing editing and proofreading tool that helps pinpoint a myriad of issues from awkward sentences and dialog, to typos and repeated words. If I read along, I also catch misused words and other problems. My writing has improved dramatically. Imagine what the books would have been had I listened to the pros in the first place. Sigh.)
Unfortunately, that is not the only time I failed to listen, or worse, listen when I shouldn’t. It is too easy to fall into negative self-talk, gossip, and other caustic conversations. As St. Paul said, "Why do I do that which I ought not, and not do that which I ought?"
The other part of listening is the art of actually hearing another speaker. I know I am too often guilty of thinking of how I want to respond, or allowing my mind to wander off on other things, rather than paying attention to what the other person is saying.
Abraham Lincoln had it right. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Wise advice I should take to heart, right along with doing what wiser folks suggest the first time around. Life might be a lot less embarrassing and troublesome.
As Samuel said to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
This time, I am. Are you?