December 14, 2013

Whiny & Self Indulgent: the Inner Critic.

Many years ago, I received an invaluable gift from a word-smith friend.

Donna and I met in a supermarket check out line. Our yenta was the woman behind the register who happened to know that both of us were writers and that once upon a lifetime ago, I had been the publisher of Visions Magazine. We were also wearing similar jewelry (a hamsa or ‘Hand of God’); hers was a necklace and mine were earrings.

I came to consider her ‘my other Jewish Mother’; although she wasn’t old enough to be my mom. She offered emotional chicken soup when needed and the aforementioned gift. These are the words that have remained with me all these years later.

“Writers write.  Writers write what they know.”

Nothing new to those of us who have picked up pen, pencil or crayon and scrawled our thoughts or tip tapped on the keyboard when inspired.

Back then, my writing was sporadic and occasion oriented. I was a greeting card text writer and minister who created mushy love cards and ceremonies. I was also a free lance interviewer whose articles appeared in the monthly second incarnation of the magazine I had once published. At that time I couldn’t have conceived that writing would become my passion and the Muse—my lover—who wakes me at all hours, ravishing me until we are both satiated.

Now it is my healthy addiction and I say that I ‘can’t not write.’

When I have an experience, my inclination is to share it so that people can travel along with me and have a vicarious encounter. One thing that has changed in the past few months has been that I have savored the events and the emotions they evoke first, rather than deflecting them by scattering them to the winds. I realized that I get to savor them if they are delicious or learn from them if they are painful and challenging. It has become my therapy, healing and saving grace that keeps me sane and vertical.

The Universe has presented me with a boatload of fodder for my writing including deaths of loved ones, stress out the wazoo as a widowed single parent, working as a therapist for clients in major life crises, experiencing vicarious traumatization as a result, spiritual wake up calls, as well as my own recent multiple health challenges.

The common denominator is the call to be authentic throughout it all.

Not easy for this recovering co-dependent caregiver who is often in ‘savior behavior’ mode.

Peeling off the mask of sweetness and light has been my growing edge. I had been fearful of what might lie beneath its alluring surface. Would I find darkness and turmoil? Yep. Would I recognize that I hold judgments and bitchy thoughts? Uh huh. Would people in my life run screaming when they discovered those things as I came clean?

Not a one.

Lately though, as I read my self exposing utterances, I wonder if I am being overly indulgent and whiny and if readers are tired of my navel gazing, noticing some recalcitrant fuzzies that may be lurking therein.

The voice of creativity sometimes sounds like my obnoxiously petulant inner kiddo.

One thing that many writers forget when we find our own stuff tedious since we have read it and over, is that to the reader it is brand new and filled with aha moments and brilliant insight. The feedback I receive is that many have felt the same way but didn’t have the verbiage to express it.

When I read something inspiring that particularly resonates, the thought arises that this person peered into my brain and then sucked the ideas right out. Since word-wranglers sometimes feel as if we create in a vacuum, I usually contact the author and offer feedback and thank them for their wisdom.

I received a huge compliment from a friend recently in which he compared my writing style to those of some better known creative souls who are part of his circles; one a best selling author whose work is iconic and who I have come to know better after being introduced to her writing a decade ago . Needless to say (although, being a writer, of course I will), I was honored.

My imposter syndrome-infused inner critic was hushed for a bit. May she remain blessedly silent for at least a little longer.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Lawrence Weiner/Wikimedia Commons

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