Monday, March 5, 2012
Two sides of the same coin
There has to be a balance between loving your work, and being critical of it.
...and I'm certainly not the best example.
I'm very critical of my own writing. Whenever I send it to someone to critique, my email usually includes the phrase, "shred it to pieces". And I never intend that line to be exaggeration for the sake of humour (thought I do poke fun at myself whenever possible).
I do mean it. I want my work to be shredded into itty-bitty pieces.
One of the best things about being dyslexic: I pretty much have an iron skin.
And truly, no shred-tacular critique from a fellow writer is going to be worse than my third grade teacher forcing me to re-write my work on the blackboard in front of the entire class so I would 'learn' not to fool around and would stop writing my letters backwards, while she lectured me the entire time about what a bad student I was.
Yup. I have an iron skin.
I know there are going to be errors no matter how many times I look over the same piece of writing.
What looked fine yesterday will look ridiculous tomorrow, and I'll ask myself, "Was I drunk when I checked that over? Nope? Okay, just dyslexic. Like an idiot, I should have seen those raisins."
The reason I'm super-critical is because I love writing and I want to get better.
Though I expect there to be mistakes, I want it to be perfect. I so badly want readers to 'get' the story I'm trying to tell, to love the characters the way I do, to see the world through my eyes. I don't want to waste my critique partner's time by tripping them up on weirdly worded sentences, white-room-syndrome, confusing character motivations, or pizza-popsicles.
So the more I love the story, the more critical I am.
Does that sound strange?
I do think these are two aspects of the same thing. Like the old saying about love and hate being two sides of the same coin. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. Similarly with writing, being enamoured and being critical of the same page of words... those are both strong emotions, which means you're invested in the story.
But when the two aren't balanced, that's when problems can occur. If you love it too much, you can't see the problems. Similarly, if you are too critical, you can't see the good.
Either way, you can't improve, and I definitely lean more naturally to the second one. Most of the time I'm so desperate to find and fix my mistakes before someone else sees them that I lose focus and don't spend the time I should to refine the parts of my writing that are good, but could be great if I worked on them with the same dedication I use to hunt/destroy the bad parts.
Which is why I have to jolt myself out of that tunnel-vision-mindset, make a mess and have fun once in a while.
I need to remind myself why I love a particular story and why I was willing to devote so much time and energy into it.
How about you guys? Which way do you tend to tilt, towards love or hate? Any words of wisdom in how to re-set your balance? How are you right now with your WIP's?