Take the "P" out of pain and add "G" for Gain

No Pain, No Gain.

At some point we’ve all heard or been told this phrase countless times in our lives. Especially in recent years, when our economy, government, and even Mother Nature dealt us pain we often fear they’ll be no gain at all.

But this is neither a financial or political blog, this blog is for aspiring and emerging children’s book writers, but trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

Just like the troubling times going on worldwide, and in our respective homelands, every man, woman and child faces their own trials and triumphs. But just as our predecessors survived and thrived despite The Great Depression, and two World Wars almost back to back, we’ll survive these tough times too, even though sadly many of us will recover far slower than others.

But while the modern phrasing of this now clichéd saying is most well known, it comes from an old proverb coined by one of America’s most influential voices, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who said in his Poor Richard’s Almanac: There are no gains without pains.

While this witty pearl of wisdom is mostly used in modern times as a self-motivator to physical fitness, it definitely applies to writers to further understand our craft, and sharpen it, like a hand crafted Chinese meat cleaver.

You’d be surprised at some of the common turns of phrase we still parrot today were first penned or made it wittingly candid by him.

“A penny saved is a penny earned” is another of his most well known quotes.One I’ve yet to master, but at least I’m not drowning in debt, and that was a ditch I nearly dug myself in, but now I’m in the black and intend to stay that way.

But Time is Money, A place for everything, and everything in it’s place, and even, Honesty is the best policy. They all came from the witty Doc Franklin himself, whose words no less true now as they were in colonial America, but despite all the ignorant prejudice and inequivalent among the American colonists faced with England, and even amongst themselves, imagine how scathing it could’ve been if we had colonial equivalent of television, Facebook, or Twitter? Can you say, “Social Death By Journalism?” 

I’ll take Death by Chocolate instead, cake that is.

One of my favorite Franklin phrases is one I first heard in 2002-

“A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.”

Peanuts Charlie Brown I imagine would find much solace in that quote. I sure do.

What I gather this means is that it’s never too late to better one’s education, or build character, and integrity where previously there was none. Something I think all writers, but especially newcomers to the field like me, need to remind ourselves every day, minute, and hour we live and on the endless journey to improve our writing, for ourselves, and the readers we one day want to have. 

Many wise and more patient writers than I always told me, the journey is more important than the destination. But I believe it’s too stark a message. Though I’ve come to see the truth to it. The destination is still important. 

If it wasn’t, many of the truly joyous moments in our lives, both as a country, as well as individuals, would’ve never occurred. I hope Ben’s Words, and mine, bring you the comfort and joy I’m starting to find again.

I’ll leave you with my all time favorite quote from Dr. Franklin I sincerely wish all my readers and fellow writers can achieve in some form, for their sake, and for the sake of the future generations of wordsmiths-

“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Until tomorrow,
May the fantastic fauna be with you.

P.S: While I applaud Ben for his searing sentences that speak truths we often recoil against, but need to hear anyway, I feel sorry for dogs everywhere when he uses these loyal, brave, and playful companions as metaphors on the sins and frailties of human nature. But I did find one dog quote by Dr. Franklin that shows that loyalty. As an animal lover,  whether the creatures of fact, or fiction, it was a quote I was glad to find.

Many Thanks, Ben. Many Thanks.

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  • Good old Ben! I’m reading the first book in The 39 Clues series, and since it focuses on Ben Franklin, I’m remembering all these great sayings. Loving it!

    Taurean, I agree. We need to stick together and help each other along this journey. Yes, the destination is important. And sometimes it difficult to stop and realize all the great things about the journey itself. That’s what we need to stick together for. To celebrate the little successes along the way.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kelly. I knew the 39 Clues had history and key historical figures in it, but since I haven’t read them, I didn’t know the first one focused so much on Dr. Franklin.

    That said, while I do like and try to model myself on some of his sayings, I think his views on what constitutes a fool or jerk are a bit too extreeme.

    For example, a quote I found when putting yesterday’s post together was, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

    While I can agree there’s much truth to this, and admit to doing this occasionally, though not always intensional, but I think

    Besides, no one would know how anyone felt or meant by things that puzzle, annoy, or hinder others if we never complained.

    If were talking complaining for the sake/thrill of it, yes I do think that’s foolish, but as I’ve said many times in life, sometimes you have to speak your mind, even if it’s hard to do or receive.

    Of course, I’m sure it’s a subtle way of saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is true, but there are times when words do matter, just as much as acting on your morals and principles, there are times when both action and words work in harmony.

    In the case of writing, we need others to tell us the flaws and misteps we make in our work or we’ll never know or get betting at fixing them, but we also need remember that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to conveying criticism.

    Some people really do work best with the blunt, “Tell it like it is” type of criticism, and there are some writers, like me, who prefer the even-handed approach.

    We can tell you what confused or irked us without sugar-coating it, but we don’t want or need to be vicious about it.

    As someone once said, “The truth can set you free” and freedom is meant to be savored, not loathed, which is how we can feel when we get critiques that sound overly harsh, even after we calm down and see their advice or warnings about what we did wrong were dead on.

    I’ll be talking about query letters later this month. Hopefully that’ll shed some more light on things I learned that helped me and my writing move forward.


  • Cat

    Wow. That’s a great post, Taurean! Thanks for sharing it.

    I haven’t read any of the 39 Clues, I’m sad to say. Maybe now I’ll have to at least try. :-)

    Hey, and I wanted to let you know, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award, because it really is a lovely blog. Just come over here: http://katrinadelallo.blogspot.com/2011/03/one-lovely-blog-award.html, and collect your prize.