Ask me once, I’ll tell you my name, ask me twice, I’ll tell you the same…..
The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews– William Faulkner
Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art– Harry S. Truman
In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me– Edgar Allan Poe
What do you do when that pesky internal critic crawls through the door of your creative grotto? What do you do when that nagging little voice claws its way up from the darkness– and struts out into your line of sight, bouncing up and down on your tender prose– squeaking for all its worth about inadequacies and failure?
It’s hard to stuff cotton-wool in your ears to drown out the words of someone speaking in your head.
About 4 or 5 years ago, right before my first NaNoWriMo adventure, one of my nano mentors suggested I give my internal critic a name. The intent was to give my critic an identity because it’s easier to ignore something/someone to which you can shout scathing insults.
Don’t ask me where the name came from, or why my editor happens to male.
Whatever the reasons for his form, name, etc. I have no idea. But, he has lodged himself, indelibly, within my psyche. He remains, slumbering peacefully, until he is made aware of a tender work-in-progress— at which point, he earns his keep by slowly driving me insane.
My friends have come to accept my subtle eccentricities. I’ve never been given to dramatics and am in no way high maintenance. So, when they hear my desperate pleas to silence Humphrey, they just nod sympathetically and suggest I shove hot pokers in uncomfortable places of his person.
But, for all of his rantings and ravings, I find that he sometimes–on rare occasions– makes sense. **please, don’t tell him I said that**
He’s quite like a bored teenager, really… pushing buttons and limits, just to see how far he can go. He might throw endless tantrums about how meaningless everything I write is. Or, he might laugh at my newest plot idea. But, whenever he nonchalantly says ‘That doesn’t sound right’ or ‘Something feels off’– I listen.
And, once he’s got a captive audience, he tries to make me grasp what, exactly, is wrong with the piece I’m working on. I know he can’t fully put it into words, but I’m listening. He knows I can’t fully understand, but he advises. Together we work through a piece until it’s tweaked.
For awhile, I think I’ve found a trusted ally in the world of letters. Of course, as soon as my back’s turned, he’s off wrecking havoc on another part of my psyche. ***sigh… not just a teenager, but, a teenager with ADD***
So, how do you keep the beast at bay???