When I was in grad school I had a mentor who was magical. I would drive my dump truck full of story ideas, characters, and problems over to her and dump them out at her feet. She was amazing. Not only did she allow me to do this week after week, but she hired me as her Teacher’s Assistant, which was probably a genius way of getting even with me. One very important piece of advice she shared was that I need to tell my inner critic to shut the hell up. Some of you might have no problem doing this, for me, this is an eternal battle within.
Last week I received my critique back from my entry to the Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest. Naturally, it was a stomach churning moment. I have been working with my writers group, rewriting, and tweaking the book, but I really did not know if I had something that could sell or if I was just writing this book for my own entertainment. After reading the critique, I spiraled out of control. I ate everything in sight. Then the next day, I turned into Hemingway and drank everything in sight. Yes, dear readers, I am a tad dramatic when someone doesn’t like my work as I feel that my writing is me. Plus, my inner critic had won and was laughing her ass off. Yes, I tend to take my writing personally and when my ego takes a hit I go dark. Very dark.
My ego is like a hot air balloon. I had to let it soar off into the gray skies for a few days. I allowed myself three days to disappear into the clouds. Three days for drama, but no more. And I promised myself that I would not look at the critique during these dark days.
On Saturday morning I went for a five mile hike around the lake, came home, packed up my gear, and headed off to Spokesman (coffee joint). Once I was comfortable and caffeinated, I opened the critique and read it, again. Here’s what I discovered: I should be awarded for Biggest Overreaction by a Writer. The review was fair. I agreed with the points that required a rework and with the points that the reviewer thought were well done. Yes, the critic had quite a few good things to say. I could not believe it. For the first time in a few days, I smiled. Next, I punched my inner critic. What? She totally deserved it.
A friend of mine reminded me that I am not my writing. Logically, I know this, but my inner artist and that evil critic bitch that lives inside of me likes to think otherwise. I’m a work in progress as is my writing. Someday I hope to conquer my inner critic. Often, I imagine dropping her off at a vacant wayside during a horrendous snowstorm with only a Stephen King novel to keep her warm. After all these years I feel that that would be the best way to shut her up forever.