The Eagles - Take It To The Limit
The life of a writer.
I’ve heard the arguments for either side: that it is solitary, or it is social. All depends, really, which way you want it to go. But it's a hard life. An artist puts a lot of themselves into creating, then comes the judgment. Like a child seeking approval, we want to think that we've pleased the world. We want to stand on a chair, kick up our heels and curtsy in our Shirley Temple dress and curls, and bask in the applause. And, some little atom inside of us has also convinced us that we have unleashed genius upon the world.
Then come the accolades.
Ask us which we remember more – a hundred compliments… or one criticism.
I find this to be true off the page as well. Having grown up in a fishbowl of gunky water polluted by negativity, it's hard to comprehend when I'm swimming in clear water. When someone smiles and says "I love your sweater!" I immediately think "but my hair looks like crap, right?". It's like, one kind word forward, two insults back.
Every week, I take words that I’ve poured onto a sheet of paper, then I gingerly carry said papers to one of my many critique groups so that they can sprinkle their salt and piss lemon juice all over the wounds.
Okay, I kid. Sort of. Critiques are a very helpful, and necessary tool for any writer. One of the groups I’m in has the “rule” that we can’t respond to any comments unless it’s a direct question.
At least one of us fails miserably every single week.
It is a very difficult thing to sit silently while people misinterpret your intent. We’re writers, for shit’s sake. We do what we do to express ourselves. Putting a gag order on us is the same as duct-taping our hands to the desk. We want to defend our words to our death! Then come the times when we do let our audience down. Any artist takes that personally, feels it deep inside like a prostate exam gone wild.
Tonight, one of my fellow writers, after hearing two pieces regarding my recent friendship fallacies, earnestly stated that my “voice” has lately seemed a bit too passive. I, of course, want to shout out “Look at the last three months of my life! Being momentarily passive is what has saved that little shred of sanity I have left hanging from the rafters in my head.”
I know she meant well, and it’s a genuinely helpful comment. But in my head all I can think is – I failed my audience. I have not convinced them of my detachment - rightfully earned as I watch people leaving me in droves. Why might that be? Because while I can write these feelings down in blood-red ink, it is followed by my false persona of smiles and polite conversation. I belie my own words with my actions.
Truth, with a side of hypocrisy, please. No just desserts, thank you.
© Kymberlie Ingalls
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