One Wrong Word!


Susan RubinWhen you are getting criticism from a respected colleague, try not to do what I just did: try not to take one sentence out of context and ruin the entire conversation for yourself. To wit:

I got my notes on DRAFT THREE of the play. My esteemed colleague told me things that literally gave me goose bumps: I heard words like “this is a real work of art…your best writing ever… a deeply intriguing story like nothing I have read in my life!”

Here’s what stuck in my mind – “you know, when I read the first draft I liked it, but I didn’t really see where you were going with it… now, I see the play you are writing…”

I went home, I was elated! Until I wasn’t… until all I could hear in my head was the fact that my collaborator had not instantly seen the beauty and brilliance of my FIRST DRAFT!! Am I insane? Rhetorical question. I am a writer, and obviously a neurotic writer, although that is redundant!

So given the situation, what should I do? Get a therapist? I already have one! Try to remember the feeling of the conversation when the real accolades were coming at me? I always try that! Limit the amount of time I am allowed to suffer over what I know was an amazing conversation. Yes yes I know that!

I move on to: REMEMBER WHY I WRITE PLAYS! Believe in my talent already. Stop allowing myself to take statements spoken by tried and true supporters and use those statements to hit myself in the face!

This is a difficult but attainable goal for all of us who quake with self doubt as we create our work. In fact, I believe that no real art is ever made without fear and uncertainty. Each work of art is brand new. It comes from inside the artist’s unconscious mind. It would be strange if a person were completely confident that their deepest interior soul would be interesting to other people: Worth sharing.

But you march forward with courage relying on the fact that you have worked hard, and that you are good at what you do.

Please do not ask for it to be easy, roller blading is easy. Eating French fries is easy. Making art is hard. But you do it, you show it to people, you re-write or re-shoot. You stop asking for “easy” and time after time you come up with something not only viable, but beautiful and deeply communicative!

And you try to remember that if you quit, if you let Life with all of its emotional input (family members, tough days at work, parking tickets) divert you, then the World will have missed out on your unique and needed works of art.

Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille exchanged letters, to paraphrase what one said to the other – “It’s not your job to judge your work, it’s your job to do it. Because nobody else can ever say it the way you would, and if you stop yourself, your voice and your story will be lost forever.”