I was reading an ex-Hollywood Writers Agent’s blog the other day on writers and how talents are always being scouted because their simply aren’t that many around or discovered. Why? For variety, for change, for a fresh take etc. However she mentioned a few reasons as to why writers out there are lacking in numbers, and foremost was that writing was a cruel mistress, beating down on the sensitive individuals who eventually give up trying because, let’s face it, breaking that glass ceiling is like pulling your own teeth out while you are jammed between a jagged rock and an extremely hard place at the same time.
After reading her article on the fact that writers need to show their faces more, an image suddenly breached my senses and I could almost feel the thick hide we need to grow in a very short time so that nothing less than substantial can ever pierce the fragile ego of our perpetually sensitive nature. Fragility is the writer’s Achilles heels, we all have it. and worse yet, we all know that it is the one thing that can bring us down crying and wailing, and giving up on our lifelong dream. It is that, for those who don’t know. That writing and becoming even a slight success is what every writer dreams off before most children have even decided on few fields of career preference. Mine? I was decided pretty much by the time I was 12. The only problem was, how?
A writer’s work is always scrutinized. Always! During writing by the writer him/her self, during proofreading by editors, by agents and publishers, and at the end, by the readers. This means there are a number of avenues through which criticism can find its mark, directly hitting that tender nerve. Some of us will take those criticism in our stride, others of us will feel beat down but not defeated, and then, there are few of us who feel personally attacked and will therefore lose confidence in that which we write, eventually giving up that dream because the path to get to the destination at the end is littered with more thorns, some larger and harsher.
Hence, we need to grow a very thick and very resilient hide! I don’t mean get pompous and don’t take advice and constructive criticism. I mean learn how to filter the important ones, learn how to decipher an honest helpful comment etc. and learn when to switch off that part of yourself, or lock away your vulnerability when you sense meaningless danger. Now some of you may be thinking of getting rid of your vulnerability all together so that you avoid the whole darn thing, but please don’t. It is our vulnerability, it is our ability to feel emotions beyond our own lives and it boundaries that allow us to do what we do, to garner our experience, our emotions, our observations into compelling tales.
I’ve been writing for well over a decade, does that mean I have learnt the art of taking criticism? No, not really. I’m a learner. You see, I never showed my work, my ‘face’ as a writer till about a handful of years ago. I was one of those that hid yet dreamed, till one day it hit me, hiding won’t present me opportunities to improve, to get that much closer to success. So here I am, alongside many, learning the art of being a public writer, a social writer, and a writer who can decipher criticism to improve one self.
If you’ve dreamed of being a writer, don’t hide. Start by showing your work to a small group of people you trust to be gentle yet honest.