"But I like it!" I said.
I had liked it when I had gone shopping and a little girl peered over her mother's shoulder and said "Hat! Hat! Hat!" and her mother turned, looked, and said "Haaaatt."
I had liked it when I stood in line at just about any store and folks did double takes and tried hard not to stare. (Okay, some stared.) I had liked it when I saw my reflection with my yellow hat shouting "Hello!" in a storefront window. And I liked it still!
It was my yellow hat, and that was that!
But here was my dear friend--and she TELLS THE TRUTH--looking at me, shaking her head. "No, Dionna. Never wear it again." And that was all she said.
I went home (wearing my hat) and looked myself over in the mirror. I couldn't see it. The hat was so cute. So retro. So YELLOW. How come my friend doesn't see it? What's wrong with HER? Then I paused.
I really trusted my friend's opinion. She had saved me from embarrassment many times before. She had fashion sense over me hands down. And my friend really cared about me. She wasn't jealous that I had the yellow hat and she didn't. So I had a talk with myself: "Dionna," I said. "Though you can't see it, this hat must not be as awesome as you think. You must rethink the yellow hat."
It was hard, but I retired my wondrous, yellow, retro, crocheted beret. (And what a surprise to receive a gift from my friend of a beautiful gray hat, the kind "adults" wear.)
One thing I've come to realize over the years that I've been writing is that others often see my work more clearly than I see my own. What blinds me? It's my love for my own stories, my characters, my "cleverness" in writing. It's that yellow hat syndrome creeping up again.
There are two things that have helped me pause and rethink the "hat". First, I put my manuscript away for a while--the longer the better--so that when I look in the mirror at a later time, I can see the flaws. Second, I listen when someone gives sound, critical advice, remembering that they have no ulterior motive for telling me the truth--especially if they are an editor or an agent! I try hard to remember my little, yellow hat. (And when I forget the lesson it's taught me, I have an excuse to take my hat out and strut my stuff!)