By nature, artists are sensitive. It’s this same sensitivity that allows us to bare our souls for the sake of creativity. When we write (create), it is our ability to feel deeply the emotions of our characters and put them into words that allows our readers to feel deeply too. We pour our souls into our work. We become vulnerable to others. Sometimes when we write, we feel completely drained because we have put every last ounce of energy and emotion into our work. I have had to take breaks from writing my novel at times because something that happened to my characters would drain me. I would find myself in tears, depressed, drained, and unable to give anymore of myself to anyone.
I have protected my novel like it’s a child. I am making myself vulnerable to those that read it. It’s leaving me open to hurt and pain. It’s frightening. I think we all feel this way to a certain extent. I also realize that we have to find the courage to make ourselves vulnerable to others. We have to find the courage to send our babies out to the world and risk rejection, hurt, and pain. We have to take this risk to be successful, to publish, and to grow as writers and as people.
We, the people who feel so deeply that we are able to create something beautiful - a book, a picture, a painting, a movie- have to be strong in the face of rejection. It’s a dichotomy. I suppose some people manage to marry the two, or they are pretty good at faking it. Look at all of the artists throughout the ages who suffered for their art. We call them tortured souls, but they were just like us.
It helps me to think that we are all in this together. We will all make ourselves vulnerable, and we will all face rejection. We are the ones who feel deeply, which I believe is a gift. There is not a single writer in the history of the world who has written a perfect piece of work, edited a couple of times, never had any outside opinions, and published their work the next day. Not the Bronte sisters, or Jane Austen, or John Keats, who never published until after he died. Franz Kafka, who I adore, thought his work was so terrible, he asked that it be burned upon his death, yet his work in every college curriculum in the Western world. It’s the nature of writing, I tell my students. It’s almost impossible for us to see ALL of our own mistakes.
I have no answers… just ramblings. So, I will leave you with a quote by John Osborne (English playwright, and screenwriter):
“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”
Oh those English….