JoAnn's sunning on the beach and asked me to post this for her...
Like a lot of Southern mothers, my mom raised me to be modest in speech. When someone complimented me, the proper response was a simple “thank you.”
But as I got older, that “thank you” acquired an ugly appendage of self-disparagement. If someone told me they liked my haircut, I would say “Thank you. But I think it makes me look a lot older.” If someone complimented my attire, I would say “Thank you. I know it makes me look fat, but it sure is comfortable.” If someone complimented my cooking (a rare occurrence, to be sure), I would say “Thank you. But I cooked it too long and I should have added more butter.”
Last year at a conference, a well-known author introduced me to her agent. The writer said “JoAnn’s been burning up the contest finals lately.” My response? “Thank you. But I just don’t tell anybody about all the contests that I don’t final in.” The lovely smile on the agent’s face faded quickly.
So I’m adopting a new attitude. I’m going old-school. No more beating myself up. When someone compliments my writing, a simple “thank you” will do nicely. And if you see me take a breath to say something else, will you please clap your hand over my mouth?