Am I my own worst critic?

26 Mar

Writing is magic stephen king

Earlier tonight I was asking Mr. Rockstar about hobbies. My protagonist’s love interest is a mechanic who co-owns a garage with his father. He’s 25, has been a widow for a year (his wife was murdered during a break-in when he was at work), and he’s, well, this manly guy who’s a bit of rebel since his wife died. Prior to his wife’s death he was social but somewhat shy. He’s a hands on kind of guy who is restoring his 1966 Chevelle and has a 1970 Harley (which he rides at extremely high speeds on nights he can’t sleep because he can’t get the picture of his dead wife out of his head). Since I’m not a guy, though I grew up with a brother and a shit-ton of male cousins, I wanted a guy’s perspective. My son who is 24 and is at the stage where he knows everything, and since he plays those RPG’s knows everything about character tropes jumps in with: That’s so cliche!….the name of your character is Midnight–you can’t get more cliche!….” (Insert more sarcastic criticism about my characters, my character’s names and hobbies, and even the town’s name, etc) and by this time I’m literally shaking I’m so frustrated, hurt, and disappointed.

Don't officially know it all

My husband, wonderful soul that he is just shuts up completely, since he won’t talk over my son and it’s evident that my son is going to have his say no matter how awful he sounds (though to him it’s just being honest), and I’m ready to just get up from my computer and say FUCK IT! Forget it! Ironically enough, I’m a good enough writer that last night he all but begged me to help him write his paper for English (he’s in college) and when I refused and told him I’d give him ideas for filler but I wouldn’t write it for him, he pouted in his sarcastic way…but still gave me the story, one of Poe’s, and asked if I’d write down a few ideas about symbolism while he was in the shower. Now this was last night. So tonight when I’m at the desk and his tirade about my novel becomes heated and he’s being overly critical and not in a constructive manner it takes me a while to realize he’s upset with me. Angry that I wouldn’t help him write his paper=write it for him. (I won a journalism scholarship when I was in high school; I’ve had a few poems and short stories published; I was an English major in college (though I haven’t finished my degree)…I know my writing “ain’t half bad.”

exceed the limits of my medication

But when he finally went to his room I was left sitting at my desk wondering what the hell happened. My son was being an asshat. My husband just shut down. I was near tears. I got up, got some tissue, blew my nose and wiped the tears from my face (by then I was crying) and went to my room. I curled up on my side of the bed and thought about what my son said. Was my character’s name really that cliche? Aren’t there names in real live that are weird, cliche, etc? I worked with a woman named Cherri Sherry, I went to school with a girl named Mary Wilson; hell my maiden name and my ex-husband’s last name were the same damn name just spelled differently because one was from Spain and one was from Scotland. You can’t really hyphenate Burgess-Burgos. Dean Koontz has a whole series about a guy named Odd Thomas. But I still criticized myself. I still doubted my writing skills, my writing ability, my talent, and then my dream.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent

I’m finally with someone who believes in me, supports me, loves that I am creative (even the fact that with that comes ADHD, clutter (though I like to call it creative clutter), piles of scrapbook stuff in one corner, a whole wall in our dining room that has been turned into a makeshift office for me is one big inspiration board for my creative pursuits. Our dining room table and stools are in our shed, time that I could be spending with him is oftentimes spent in front of the computer researching stuff for my book, writing, organizing things for my book, etc. And with CAMPNANO coming up April will be worse. I’ve been outlining my story, have written the prologue and the first chapter, and gotten things together in OneNote, which I absolutely love! I’ve bought extra ink cartridges and paper, and am about to get a few more odds and ends (like more pens, sticky notes, snacks, tacks for the corkboard, and extra coffee and coffee supplies).

My Creative/Workspace...

My Creative/Workspace…

Anywho, so Mr. Rockstar comes in and asks what’s wrong. I’m crying and he’s overly sensitive about anything that upsets me. I tell him, between wiping my nose and the tears off my face. I explain that maybe my character’s name is cliche. Maybe I am wasting my time. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe the EX was write and I’m not talented enough to ever have my work published and get paid for it. He married a loser. I’m…And he stops me! He tells me that he loves that I’m creative and talented. He loves that I am pursuing my dream. He loves that I’m a bit of a rambler…the whole bicycle, hat, run, look, squirrel…ADHD thing. He loves that I share my creativity with him. I use my creativity to make him handmade presents and presents for others. He loves that I’m humble about it. He loves that I can take a picture, a short poem I wrote, a few odds and ends from Michael’s and a picture frame and make him one of the best presents he’s ever had. He loves that I take the time to think about what would individually make a statement that shows I care and love someone and create a gift out of it.

The present I made Mr. Rockstar for our 6th month anniversary present.

The present I made Mr. Rockstar for our 6th month anniversary present.

He doesn’t really like to read very much–some things. He’d more into music. His creativity and talent are in his voice and his guitar playing. So when he read the prologue and the first chapter and really got into it and wanted to know what happened next he knew I was talented. He knew I was on the right path….He said, “It’s your book. Your character. You can name her whatever the fuck you want. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” He wants to talk to my son. I want to talk to my son. But I know my son, he’s a lot like me, and talking to him about while either of us is upset (angry, frustrated, etc) won’t accomplish much except to put him on the defensive which will equal more sarcastic know it all attitude. (Oh to be young and know everything again.)

don't assume to know it all

And my husband is right: It is my book, my character, and I CAN name her whatever I want. Whatever name feels like it belongs to the character. And if that name happens to be Midnight Blue and sounds a bit cliche than I guess it’ll sound a bit cliche. But for right now, that’s her name! And as for my son, I’ll talk to him after he’s finished his paper and isn’t stressed out and is over being angry because I wouldn’t “help him write it,” and when I do I’ll let him know that I’m up for constructive criticism, but in the end it’s my book and I’ll get enough criticism later on down the road. Oddly enough, he’s helped me with stuff for the novel quite a bit, but my son’s natural inclination is the path of “Know-it-all.” He’s super smart, extremely high IQ, an almost photographic memory, but the boy lacks manners and common sense. I’ve tried my best to teach him, and I know that inside of his sarcastic arrogant exterior lies the heart of a sensitive and caring person, but sometimes he needs to learn when to stop talking or to not say anything at all.

if you understand everything you must be misinformed

And then there’s that golden rule, well actually two of them: If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all, and sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. He’ll learn eventually. So for now I’m going to continue working on my novel “Midnight Blue.” And I’m giving myself a much needed pat on the back for pursuing my dream.

Snoopy There he is writing again Snoopy He wanted applause


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One response to “Am I my own worst critic?

  1. krisdw76

    March 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

    The way I look at it is, if criticism makes one feel that bad then it isn’t constructive and yep toss that criticism right out the window. It did sound like your son was just angry you wouldn’t do the writing for him. I have same issues with my 16 year old daughter sometimes, she criticized just about my whole plot idea for my book. I tossed it out the window ( no not the book, the criticism he he ). Write what you want, and yep its YOUR book. No one elses :). Thanks for post by the way


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