Thick Skin

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

My friend Jenn (different from my friend Jenny) has been working on a book and decided to start a blog to develop her writing technique. You can see some of the things she needs to work on, but you can see a lot of real, raw stuff is heading down the pike for readers.

Have a look and post your comments here, then I’ll let her know I did this. (Don’t post them on her blog yet.)

Jenn’s Blog, 5150 Bequeathed.

When we talk about writing Truth and putting yourself out there, this is what I mean. Refining the technique can come later. The honesty has to come first.

Think about what you’re “struggling with” as a writer and see if it doesn’t pale in comparison.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

21 thoughts on “Thick Skin

  1. I enjoyed reading it, it was a very powerful piece. I don’t feel qualified to comment on her technique as I’m a newbie myself. However I thought it was very good.

    1. Eric, comment anyway. It’s not the Harvard faculty she’s writing to, it’s everyman. We’re all qualified to comment on everything somebody posts except maybe when Mayo Clinic comes out with a new protocol for post-operative heart patients.

  2. BTW, Eric, I hope my reply was in no way disrespectful to you or your friends on the Harvard faculty.

    Jenny, I’m sure, knows I’m joking. (Before everybody gets riled up because I teased her a little bit, remember I did an awesome profile of her not that long ago!)

  3. The subject matter is amazing. It pulls you in, makes you want to keep reading. It is brutal and honest, but I think you were looking for stuff that might help with her actual writing so here goes:

    Frankly I think she’s got a great writing style. It’s very conversational, very stream of consciousness. I may be a little biased on this because it is sort of the way I write and in fact I have been known to bend the rules of grammar when it pleases me. (Though I do understand the rules, and am capable of following them, with writing I think of grammar as more of a suggestion than a steadfast rule)

    That being said, some of the piece seemed a little choppy. I think there are a few too many commas in places where the words don’t actually need them, and they become a distraction. She has an excellent flow to her words, and I think maybe she feels compelled to break it up with punctuation. I say let the words flow! There’s great stuff here, I just think it needs a tiny (tiny) bit more revision on just the basic structure of the piece.

    (Hope that’s helpful. I’m generally not inclined to criticize either.)

  4. Powerful beginning…she has a nice flow and I will be interested to see how it progresses. 🙂
    (If she’s writing truth then she’s a very strong woman)

  5. Jenn, here are my suggested changes, in all caps and in parentheses, plus a few tweaks here and there.

    Email me and let’s work on the opening chapter if you want. It’s pretty awesome as is!


    The best thing about being raised by a complete psycho was the thick skin I developed. Not the kind where you just become accustomed to annoying people or stressful situations, but the really thick, tanned, weather beaten hide that allows nothing in. Not the slightest bit of cold or rain. Nothing. The kind of skin that allows you to go into those cold, wet atmospheres. They become so normal, so nonintrusive, that you need to push the skin further; test it out to feel a little something. How much could it take?

    Being Mom’s bull’s eye did not break me down. Well, it did at first. There was a (At the age of X/From the age of X, I endured a/I was shocked and devastated) great deal of shock and devastation after one of her weekly tirades. Sent to my room, having time to calm down, wipe my tears, change my blood soaked clothes and clean my wounds, would calm me as I waited for her call. “Where did I go wrong this time?” I asked myself. “What could I have done to avoid this?”

    I’d wait an hour, sometimes three. Always the same scene with the same script; she’d call me, I’d sit on her lap, she’d apologize and say she didn’t know why she’d done it.

    She loved me – or so she said.

    But there was something about me that caused her to beat me, to whip me, to take my father’s belts to my naked back until she could no longer stand (THESE LINES CREATE A HUGE AMOUN OF DREAD, TERROR AND SYMPATHY IN THE READER FOR THE NARRATOR), her breath escaping her, knocking herself off her small feet, her body could no longer keep up with her rage. Her face would turn so red, not unlike the Kool-Aid man.


    My brother and sister never developed this skin. They were not the main target. You have to be the main focus of the psychotic to develop this hide. It takes many years of being exposed to the psycho’s highs and lows to develop the skin. Constant, never ending exposure. Some don’t make it out, and all eventually crumble under the weight.

    When you eventually crumble is determined by unknown factors, mainly genetic.

    The differences between my brother, my sister, and me were vast. I did not belong; a feeling that follows me to this day. I was always inside my own head and uncomfortable even within my own clan. Billy was so soft, so easy to cry. Words alone could make him cower, run away. She preferred to attack his manhood calling him a crybaby and a girl. But he was not home as much as I. He was allowed to fish with Pop, camp with the Boy Scouts and play drums in the school band. Carrie, eight years younger than I, never saw the violence Mom could spawn. Mom had perfected the art of neglect with Carrie causing her to speak loudly and repeat herself to this day. She was allowed to spend most of her childhood being spoiled by Grandma.

    I was an analyzer; a thinker. Much like Bugs Bunny outsmarted Yosemite Sam, I just need to out think my mom. Stay one step ahead of her. Listen for the cues; doors slamming, glasses being thrown, the dog wailing from her kicks. But in truth, I never outsmarted her. She won every time. I could not turn her highs down or her lows up. Crazy was a one way track with no brakes. Like that out of control roller coaster, my heart would flutter, my throat was tight, my vision tunneled. And yet afterwards, after cleaning myself up, pulling myself together, I still asked myself what I could have done to stop it. Ever vigilant, ever strong, ever thick skinned. Maybe next time.


    Like any other pelt, my thick skin became raggedy, torn; not able to keep everything out. Over the years, as I think back now, there were times when I didn’t have it cinched up tight enough. And like any other fur coat of the literal kind, shit stuck to it. I hadn’t bothered to look back; to see what shit or how much was there. It was all there. Every up, every down, every word, every silence, every slap, every punch, burn, shove, scream…. It would all stick to me and come out in a not so unexpected way. (END CHAPTER 1 HERE)

    Gotta burn that coat! (DELETE)

    1. Dan,

      Great ideas. I wrote this quickly as an idea or concept. So it is definitely a work in progress. I want to use the blog as a canvas that I throw a quick write on. I don’t want to publish full pieces on it.

  6. Thanks for this post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jenn’s blog post. I love her voice and in a certain way, she reminds me of me. 🙂

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