A Creator’s Journey #18–An Artistic Assault on All Sides

Dear readers, you’ve been with me through the good days and bad. This day could be most aptly described as “FELRKLHGIOEH!!”

That’s the scientific term.

First…

It began with my brain doing its normal thing, which is hating my guts for no apparent reason. “You’re kind of worthless, you know? Not a very good writer, not a very good editor, not ANY good at anything else, and nobody really cares about who you are or what you do. You’re kind of a nothing.”

Oddly, this started while watching The Godfather. “See them?” said Brain. “They have money, power, and respect, something you’ll never have.”

But…they’re vicious gangsters and half of them end up dead.

“Yeah, but at least when they die their families will be taken care of.”

Thanks, Brain. I needed that.

And Then…

On Saturday, I checked my book on Goodreads. I’d been bumming about not getting any reviews, but suddenly I had one! 3/5.

Not bad, right? But you forget: my brain hates me.

“Just a 3?! Why not a 4 or 5?! My God, I really am woefully mediocre! A measly 3, no one gets excited for a 3! No one’s going to read my book ever, what do I do?!”

Are you sick of me yet? Because I’m sick of me.

Good grief, man, a 3/5 is not bad. Heck, the reviewer herself even said it was a fun read, and the flaws she pointed out were kindly-worded and sensible.

“Oh my God, her criticisms made SENSE! I’m a horrible hack of a writer! Look at all these cool ideas I could have put in there to fix it!”

You’re not going to stop until you’ve burned through your self-loathing, are you?

“Woe is me, for I am suck!”

Hoh, boy…

And After That…

And then, the clencher came. I read a book as a contest judge, one put out through a traditional Christian publisher, aligned with a known, respected agent, with one of the best-known spec-fic publishers in Christian circles. A book that was edited, reviewed, and loved.

And it SUUUUCCCKKED. Inconsistent themes, a main character so insipid and stupid she was almost the villain, a hackneyed love triangle full of heated stares and…that’s it, cliched bad guys, an unsatisfying ending, and a world I never fully understood.

Yet this was what attracted the agent who rejected my work. This was what a renowned publishing company accepted. This is what readers are giving great reviews.

That’s my competition.

How do you compete with crap? What can you do when flawed garbage is held up as the standard?

Get Back Up.

Shake it off, Mike, shake it off. You do have people who like your work. That reviewer gave a 3/5 and generally liked it, which is an encouragement, not an insult. One day, someone will give you a 2/5 or a 1/5 and you’d better be ready for it. Not everyone will like your stuff or come alongside you.

And crap will always be loved. Twilight, Transformers, Sword Art Online, it’s happened before and it will happen again.

But God has your back. He never promised fame and fortune, but did call you to be a writer. So write. Keep going, keep trying. You love it too much to do otherwise.

And maybe, just maybe, write less for yourself and more for something bigger.

“WAAAAAAH, I am the living embodiment of not-good-enough, doomed to obscurity and pity reviews!”

I hate you, brain.

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6 thoughts on “A Creator’s Journey #18–An Artistic Assault on All Sides

  1. Awesome perspective – thanks for sharing. I feel this same way on the music side of the creative art astral plane. Lately, I had allowed myself to start giving up without even realizing it – until I read this. Now I can see that I’ve relinquished a very large part of my craft for no other reason other than being discouraged. I appreciate the reminder that God created me to be exactly who He says I can be!

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  2. Lol. Oh, Michael, you are not alone. As I read through this post it felt like someone was reading my thoughts. I will never forget the moment I realized that there is a lot of really bad fiction out there being represented and published. Why did my work get turned down a hundred times? Who knows? But I am proud of my work and I am passionate about its message and I will never stop writing.

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  3. It felt like I was looking into my own brain for a day! Only, this version had witty one liners.

    When life gets you down, remember: you are honing your craft, finding your voice, building your worlds, and that takes time. But if you’ve received positive reviews, then you’re doing something right. “Just keep swimming” my friend. If Stephen King can create an entire franchise from a folding chair tucked in his laundry room, you can too.

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