Is anyone else watching Rock Star Supernova and finding the contestants a tad…defensive? And then, when they’re confronted by their own words, they backpedal? I’m just finding it really interesting to watch, because, like writing, singing is a creative endeavor that can also be subjective – well, unless you’ve got a voice like mine – and I wince when I hear them say things in that tone – because I know I’ve done the same thing. Only I’ve been lucky enough not to have it blasted back to me in front of the viewing audience. It’s so so easy to jump to, you don’t know what you’re talking about – my words are perfection on the page, but every time I found myself doing that about something in my writing, I would remember my teacher from 5th grade, Sister Helen-Joseph.
No one wanted Sister Helen-Joseph. She was the strictest teacher in my entire elementary school, and she’d do things like repeat what your parents said about you during parent-teacher conferences in front of the entire class. And those were the days when parents didn’t believe that children were always right. Anyway, one day the wind blew the door closed without warning and it slammed shut. Naturally, we all jumped, and Sister HJ turned to us and said, a guilty conscience always jumps.
That line was always in the forefront of my mind when I started giving my work to people to be critiqued. These days, the defensiveness is pretty low-key – writing with Larissa has helped that tremendously – it’s kind of impossible to have that kind of defensiveness in a collaboration, and honestly, I don’t really think I could write with anyone else the way I do with her. And the edits from Kathryn for the Blaze were really eye-opening and I actually enjoyed doing them. There was no, she doesn’t get me. Because she does, and because of that, it’s really been easy to improve each and every draft. So either I’m just lucky in that regard or I’ve let go of a lot of the emotional ego stuff I used to have and replaced it with the spirit of collaboration, whether it be with a crit partner or an editor.
I guess my point is (I did have one when I started this entry), find people you trust with your words and stick with them. It’s a fine balance, knowing when to change something because another writer pointed it out or knowing when to keep it because your gut tells you it’s going to work. It’s like you need a strange blend of confidence plus humility that lets you easily accept that you can (and should) always improve. So if you find yourself arguing about a comment, check it out again. Because when something catches like that, it’s usually because you feel the same way and just haven’t wanted to admit it to yourself yet. At least that’s the way it’s always worked for me.