The Magic of Criticism

Maybe I’m a masochist. Or maybe I just dedicated way too many years to standing on a stage in front of people who would inevitably judge me for wanting to be an actor. But I loooooooove constructive feedback and insight. Tell me what I’m doing right, I’ll love you. Tell me what I could be doing better, I’ll love you more.

Now, pump your brakes. I’m talking about art. Writing. Pictures. Rearranging furniture. That sort of thing. If you rated my outfit, pinched my arm fat, and told me I had a “character nose,” I’d be happy to punch you in the face. Tell me I’m a terrible mom, I’ll tell you you’re a terrible person. But anything outside of self-image insecurities or parenting skills is fair game.

For the most part, I’m talking about writing critiques. I always love the walk to my car minutes after the dismissal of my Monday night writers group. My brain, chalked full of ideas on how to doctor up my latest scene. Pens turn into scalpels. Keyboards turn into dozens of laser-cut house keys, opening new doors with every punch and click. I’m giddy. I’m recharged. I can’t wait to put new thoughts into new blood, into new words, into hours and hours of hard work disguised as joy. Do other people get this high off of “not good enough”? Do other people jump up and down when they hear, “you might want to try this…”? I’m either a freak or I just have way too much determination to write my wrongs.  Aw yeah, I punned. Ya like that? Mmmm…

Today I received a fantastic piece of feedback on my manuscript; a short paragraph that held a blushing amount of praise around a bittersweet line of thoughtful criticism. This simple and elegant response to a manuscript submission (one I had long-given-up on) completely rejuvenated my hopes toward publication. I won’t say the agent’s name but I am so thankful for her words of praise, commentary, and encouragement. I had heard her rejection letters were some of the nicest in the business, and I can confirm that rumor is true.

And with that one tiny email–that sliver of subjective yet rational criticism–I finally got my writer’s smile back. I am once again EXCITED to keep going. To keep pushing thru.

The definition of magic is, “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious forces.” And to me, a good critique is some downright abracadabra shit. 🙂