The value of open mindedness

Today I want to link you to a great blog post by a talented blogger named bottledworder – words in a blogule. The post is entitled: THE OPEN MINDED AND THE COCKSURE

Please check out her blog and read this post for yourself – you won’t be sorry. But don’t forget to come back here when you’re done!

bottledworder   has asked her readers to write a post where they describe what they would like to see more of on her blog. Here goes. More posts like the one I’ve linked to above and more of her short pieces of fiction, which are by the way, in a word, stunning. I would like to read more of her unique thoughts on writing and blogging. More of what she has to say about her environment – now and in the past – where she came from, how that shaped her, where she’s going, and what she sees around her every day! How does that sound? Tall order, I know, but bottledworder is up to it.

But back to her post: The open-minded and the cocksure. She writes about people who have an open mind and people who display an opposite condition – being cocksure. She believes open-mindedness is a good quality for a writer. When you have an open mind you see things happening around you, you feel how others feel. You basically end up with many eyes to see with and thus to write from.

She then goes on to describe how having an open-mind can sometimes cause a person difficulties. bottledworder quotes Terry Pratchett, “The trouble with having an open-mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

bottledworder tells us that the cocksure will put their arrogant, half-baked cookie-cutter ideas into an open-mind and though most – due to being half-baked – will crumble easily, some will take root and cause real damage. Finally, she states – being cocksure is never compatible with being a good writer.

This post has stayed at the back of my mind for well over a week – mostly because I felt such a resonance with everything it had to say. I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to resist the ideas that have been foisted on me by the cocksure of the world. Many times it has felt exactly like they stomped right into my head to wreak havoc without a second thought. I’ve often found that my ability to listen respectfully to what other people have to say has been interpreted as agreeing with their ideas – many times that has certainly been far from the truth. When offering alternative ways to think of a situation, I have experienced being seen as ineffectual. In keeping an open mind, I have found that people saw me as unable to take a stand.

Admittedly, being open-minded carries a risk – but oh the rewards! The ideas generated, the empathy gained, the insights, the connections, the worldview that takes root – I would never want to lose any of that.

Before I end up sounding too arrogant here myself – I need to insert a wordy but necessary disclaimer. We all have blind spots; we all hold a view of ourselves that others could rightly challenge. I see myself as an open-minded person – I value that quality in myself. Even as I write those words, I recognize, as most mature people do, that there are areas in which I am closed, things I am cocksure about. None of us are all one thing or the other.

To write well, a writer has to get into the mind, body and very soul of his or her characters. If your mind has been closed to the perspectives of other people – how will you do that? How will you describe the emotions and motivations of your characters? How will you speak authentically in a variety of voices? How will you make a wide range of characters believable, likeable and real?

As 2013 begins, I challenge you as I challenge myself – risk the open mind, explore your own blind spots (they are really just another area to be open-minded about) and write, write, write.


St. Francis outside the cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico – the creator of this piece of art must have had a very open mind when he or she considered how St. Francis should be depicted. The result is a fresh image that literally comes to life in playful exuberance.


7 comments on “The value of open mindedness

  1. The Hook says:

    Great recommendation, my friend!

  2. dkzody says:

    Love the picture. Do you live in Santa Fe? I have a real affinity for Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico as I am a huge fan of Georgia O’Keeffe.

    • I live on Northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada – my husband and I took a trip down to New Mexico a couple of years ago and I totally fell in love with Santa Fe – we saw the Georgia O’Keefie gallery and it was a real highlight of the trip. Thanks for dropping by the site.

  3. I grew up seeing statues and pictures of Saint Francis, but this one in Santa Fe drew me in immediately. Others with me disagreed and thought others were bett interpretations, but this is truly my favorite. Thank you for this.
    If you go on to Taos and up into the hills of the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, you’ll see a small, framed painting by O’Keefe at the tree she drew, from the angle of leaning almost against the tree and looking up.

    • I agree about this St. Francis – I just walked around and around him taking photos – the joyful way in which he is depticted fascinated me. Thanks so much for the travel tip for Taos – we definitely plan to go back to New Mexico.

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