"Perhaps the most damaging form of artistic loss has to do with criticism. The artist within, like the child within, is seldom hurt by truth. I will say it again that true criticism liberates the artist it is aimed at. We are childlike, not childish. Ah-hah! is often the accompanying inner sound when a well placed, accurate critical arrow makes it's mark. The artist thinks, "Yes! I can see that! That's right! I can change that!
The criticism that damages an artist is the criticism-well intentioned or ill- that contains no saving kernel of truth yet has a certain damning plausibility or an unassailable blanket judgement that cannot be rationally refuted." ~ Julie Cameron, The Artist Way, pg 130
All these things Hurt- I'll say it again. They HURT. The only way to move on and be free to create work is to acknowledge these hurts- to write about them-to talk about them- to feel them and move on.
I told a dear friend a week or so ago that I'm a huge drama queen (I've said this before on this blog.) When I get a rejection or a damning criticism, I feel it. I cry. I whine. I may even take to my bed, or a hot bathtub of bubbles. I go on and on about it for at least three days. Then I set it aside and move on- The point is I get it out of my system and move on.
Now, I've had friends say- oh, buck up. Stop whining. Grow a thick skin. There is a prevailing sense in this business that if you feel hurt, then you won't make it. You must suffer all these hurts big and small in silence, sweep them under a rug, ignore them in order to be professional. I'm here to tell you, that if you do that, you will kill the joy in your writing. (The person who told me to buck up- Grow a skin...they got one revision letter from an editor and never sent another book out.)
Allow yourself to grieve and move on. I have countless rejection letters. I still have people today who point out my flaws, my typos, etc. I take a bow, acknowledge my imperfections and if there is artistic truth, I thank them. If it is petty I think, really? What did that gain you? Allow yourself to feel these slights- these slings and arrows- acknowledge them, look them in the eye, rob them of their power.
The Journey is tough and random. Some people make millions while other talented artists get ignored. One bad review can set you back years. I often describe the writing life like this. There is a giant room full of boxes. A writer must take a risk and reach their hand blindly into a box. Some pullout a contract. Some get bit by a snake. Some pull out a winning lotto ticket, while others find only razor blades.
When you're feeling blue- remember. It's not a race. The outcomes and opinions of others do not effect your journey. Only you effect your journey. They don't give away prizes for who ever bucks up best. Whoever has the thickest skin. - nope, no award show for that. If you begin to feel as I often do that everyone else knows more of the grammar rules and that I will never be a "good enough" at craft, here is a quote from Julia that I completely agree with: "For an artist to become overly cerebral is to become crippled (artistically.)"
So, grieve your injuries and let them go. Celebrate your imperfections as part of taking artistic risks. Find the joy in the journey while dodging the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Cheers~