You can be writing along, feeling okay about the words on the page, or your ideas in general, or what the finished piece will be like. You let your thoughts wonder to the idea of a reader. I don't mean the general reader who you take into account to make sure your words make sense and all those other considerations you make maybe without realising, I mean a specific person with a specific set of values and even a specific face.
This has been happening here and there since I've been working on the collection. In a way it's not new, it's the thing we call 'inner critic' - the voice in your head that tells you your work is shit.
But the difference is, or what I've just realised, is the bit about the 'specific face'. As I'm thinking about a book with stories in that I have written, I imagine someone I know, someone I really know in real life, reacting negatively to the stories. They don't see the point in them. They don't go anywhere. And who do you think you are putting these words in a book and trying to make people read them when there are so many real things happening in the world? And is this part of this story about xxx because you shouldn't have used that kind of language if it is. And why are you writing about THAT?! And why did that ending end so shit? Don't see the point.
She (yes, it's a she) has popped up this week and it was the first time I actually took notice enough to see it's a specific person, which I thought was weird. I've realised that sometimes when I listen to the inner critic, maybe as I'm writing a draft, it can be someone else I know, someone I respect, but this one, this week, is here because she represents what I think people who knew me a long time ago might think of my stories. And she snuck in when I was looking at the work so far as whole - so I imagined the finished book - and she said what she thought.
I can shut her up though so it's okay.
Does your inner critic ever have a face? Is it someone you know, or knew?