Because of how I talk about dealing with rejection, writer’s block, and the other pitfalls of writing life, some of you may be under the impression that I deal with this shit well. That I have, through the judicious application of tea and profanity, achieved a writer zen-state where none of it bothers me. Or, if it does, I can take the healthy point of view that this adversity is making me better. And some days, that’s true.
Other days I react with all the well-considered poise of a rabid badger poked with a stick.
Sorry to shatter your illusions. I hope you can recover.
My particular catalyst for transformation into the Rabid Badger of Defensiveness is criticism. Not all criticism; I deal with most types well enough. Written is preferable—I absorb information better in a written form. I’d always rather read an article than watch a video. But even spoken criticism I can deal with most of the time. And haters? Boy, give me haters any day of the week. I fucking love haters. They give me a chance to try new curse words, a gift that should not be wasted.
But if there are nine times when I take criticism in a well-considered and measured way, then the tenth time…the tenth time is a crap shoot.
Friday was one of those tenth times. Here’s how the conversation went:
Krys: Hey, Steph’s new blog post is great! I should point out that typo to her so she can fix it, because no one likes typos out there in the world, right? I’m being a good friend! (Raises voice) Hey, Steph, you typed ‘with’ instead of ‘will’ on that line.
Steph: (turns into the Hulk) MAY THE DEMON CHICKENS OF THE ABYSS PECK YOUR BRAIN BY NIGHT AND BY DAY.
(Proceed to chase Krys around the house, pelting her with chickens and smashing the furniture.)*
So that was my Friday: blog post, criticism, Hulk, chicken hurling. Later I apologized for being an unmitigated cock and there was beer.
“But, Steph,” I hear you say.** “I thought you were writing about dealing with this crap! I thought you were better than that.”
Sorry, kids. I fuck up. And Friday I did. I let an emotional, knee-jerk reaction of SOMEONE IS ATTACKING ME I MUST ATTACK THEM prevent me from hearing something helpful. More importantly, I let it prevent me from using that criticism to make the post better.***
Writers need to be able to take criticism. Not hatin’, mind you. But genuine, helpful criticism is something that will make you better. And you always need to be better. And so do I.
So learn from my mistakes: stifle that first reaction and listen. Because, if it’s someone you trust and someone you respect, chances are they’re trying to tell you something helpful. And, if you decide it’s not for you, then don’t do it. But listen, think, and learn first.
Because if you can’t, at least most of the time, then writing is not for you.
*No, this isn’t an exaggeration. Why do you ask?
**I do, you know. I hear all.
***For a while. I fixed it later. Because I’m not that stupid.