Pilots and Programmers: Humble Pie (What I’ve Realized in Publishing My First Article)

Getting over fear and pride

Though the idea had kind of always attracted me to do so, I had put off writing anything online for quite a long time because of fear, coupled with my somewhat innate introversion. This was essentially fear of what people would think about me or about what I wrote, and it kept me on the fence. I find it easier to accept criticism from someone I know and trust. Though, when you publish an article or post online, it’s obviously not only the people you know who can read and critique it.

Eventually, I realized everything that was holding me back boiled down to pride. I have to have a degree of humility to accept criticism. But, if I let pride get in the way, then I won’t learn anything. This realization, along with having read a few other articles on blogging (particularly Scott Hanselman’s post on helping to build the community by blogging, and Kevin Kline’s post on simply buckling down and starting a blog), helped me to finally muster up enough courage to write something.

Publishing my first article

At about the same time, I had been working with a .NET application and found what I had thought to be a good way to handle switching between test and production settings that were used to access a database and web service. I wrote an article on my findings and published it (originally) to CodeProject. I picked this site particularly because authors submit articles, and other developers review and comment back and forth with the author on their article.

Overcoming fear and pride again

I’ll admit that right after publishing that article, I was pretty proud of myself again. I finally did something that I never thought I’d have the courage to do! This lasted for about half a second, until the comments and reviews started coming in. When the article was first published, it got two pretty negative reviews, somewhat to my dismay.

After getting passed myself and trying to digest the review, I was actually flattered in a way. One of the commenters left a fairly lengthy comment on why he rated my article as he did, and offered some very valid points to consider. He didn’t have to do this. He could have just given the article a one star, and left it at that. But instead he took the time to provide his advice and guidance — I’m thankful he did that.

This was another enlightenment — “swallowing your pride” isn’t something you do just once. It wasn’t sufficient to get over myself and my pride just in the beginning when I first published the article. I also had to get over myself when interacting with the readers who reacted to my article.

Even on a larger scale, any time I time I interact with others (either verbally or in writing) I have to constantly remind myself that sharing ideas with another (in a respectful way, and also listening in return) actually takes more humility than actually just keeping to myself. It does seem like a paradox. If I keep to myself, I am not vulnerable, but rather I am safe in my own little world. If I open up and try to engage with others, I also open myself to criticism and the fear of what people might think of me. But, a whole new world is opened in doing so. This is honestly a challenge for me, but one definitely worth taking.

Conclusion

In publishing that first article, I definitely learned technically, mostly about app architecture and Visual Studio, but I also got a lesson in other, less tangible areas of life.

Saying the following is as much or more advice for myself then for anyone. It is easy to let your fear or pride or whatever else keep you from doing something. When it comes to publishing content, you have to keep in mind that it’s often the starting point for interaction with other people. It is true, that there are trolls out there, but most people I think are genuine. Obviously do your homework and don’t publish something that you know to be incorrect, but don’t be afraid to expose your ideas and get feedback.

After having published my first article online, I can honestly say that I connected with one of those genuine individuals, and as an old college professor of mine used to say, “Learning has occurred.”

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