We live in a world of “No.” Rejection is part and parcel to the writer’s world, to the artist’s, to the musician’s. The expected answer is always: “No.” It starts early. You don’t have time to see a kid’s painting. You’re not overly impressed with what an artist has done. You’ve seen a different professional do better than the writing standing right in front of you. What you’re experiencing (e.g. book/song/etc.) is not your thing so you’re vocal about it: “No, this sucks.”
Trolls aside, that negativity is pretty normal and some of that is to be expected. Criticism, whether it’s upbeat or harsh, is necessary to improving the quality of one’s work. Handling direct feedback is a balancing act between protecting the Work/Self and figuring out what comments are valuable. However, there are cases when that negativity has nothing to do with what I’m doing. I have to make a conscious effort not to fixate on outrage and negativity from non-relevant, outside sources. (It should be said that I’m not perfect and I sometimes fail at this.) Why? Because as we get older, “Nos” from our childhood become the foundation for what we feel about our own creativity. The more “Nos” I hear, even if they come from non-relevant sources, the more that impacts my ability to protect and insulate myself so I can do quality work.
Writer’s block? Doesn’t exist. It’s writer’s avoidance behavior. Sometimes it’s laziness; other times it’s because those niggly little “no” voices pop up everywhere — on comments, e-mail, submissions, award nominations, contracts, checks clearing, reports, reviews, etc. — and there’s a teeny tiny little demon belly-butt whispering in our ears. “Why bother? Look, it’s so easy… Just stop. Someone else can write that story. Someone else can paint that, film that, create that.” Or, in my case, I have a green little demon belly-butt in the shape of a dollar bill. (Don’t ask, it’s an origami thing.) “Your work will never sell. Why bother?” The internet has a particularly unique flavor of cyber-bitty demons: “You’re obviously not a good writer because you’re not popular enough. So many readers think popularity equates to quality and commercial success. If all these people believe that, it must be true, right? You don’t belong here.” Um, no. It isn’t true. That doesn’t stop the demons from saying it, though.
It is easier to say “No” (e.g. war and red pens and cemeteries) than it is to say “Yes” [sunshine and rainbows and chocolate (or raspberry if you’re allergic to chocolate. And, if you are? I’m so, so, sorry.)] — just look at how terrible our news is today. Just look at how people who are nice get shoved aside in favor of the outrage over someone acting like they’ve just eaten a celery stick dipped in motor oil. Pointing out the negative, my dear readers, also shoves aside the positive. It makes the belly-butt demons grow and they are nasty. This is especially true because right now outrage is what’s being rewarded; this is the example set by yellow journalism and it’s trickling down, down, down.
Our society is geared toward rewarding our efforts only when an artist/writer/etc. is at the very beginning of their journey or at the very end. Even then the messaging is a mixed bag. You’re just starting out? Here, let’s nurture the baby artist. So cute! Wait, but you can’t possibly do that as an adult. It’s not a real job! RIGHT?! But, when it is a real job and the artist becomes successful, they’re a sell out. They’ve made TOO much. This other art that I prefer is better. Mediocrity, which can sometimes be self-imposed, is safe. You’re too old. You’re too blonde. You’re too smart. You’re too fat. You’re too whatever. More b.s.
I believe the act of creation is a miracle and we are conduits who bring that forth. How we do that is unique and amazing and imperfect and mysterious. Here’s a human being (or, in my case… rumored cylon) who takes a vision, an incongruent mess of thoughts, and translates that into something for others to see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and read. To me, there is nothing more beautiful and I love what I do.
Support someone who’s creative. Kill a baby demon by being positive — even if it’s every once in a while. I’m not advocating that we sanitize every comment and walk on eggshells; just to manage that No-ness by balancing it out because it matters–especially to introverts like myself. Sometimes? It’s hard to speak up even if we like dropping F-Bombs online. And, to be perfectly clear: being nice or uplifting does not equate to being spineless and weak. That is a revised definition that needs to be thrown on the pyre. Cool? Anyway, I promise I’ll try to remember to do the same thing, with or without coffee.
Mood: Waxing philosophical again. SHOCKER!
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Ummm… Not telling. Nah, nah, nah.
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH
In My Ears: Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim
Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
Movie Last Viewed: Game of Thrones Season 3. I am not pleased with the Jamie development.
Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last
Man Zombie Standing
Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.