Monday, 8 October 2012

Putting an anthology together: Part 2. Shut up.

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?



Rebecca Alexander said...

My inner critic sounds just like my mother. On the surface all 'that's nice dear' and then the huge BUT 'I think it would be better...' My inner critic doesn't know what she is talking about. I try and ignore her and never, ever throw any writing away.

Teresa Stenson said...

How interesting, Rebecca. I wonder how much of our inner critic comes from how other people see us and how much of it is how we see ourselves...

Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you can ignore it - good job you did with that book deal you're on the brink of accepting! (EVERYBODY: Follow Rebecca she's ace and she's getting a book deal.)

Miss McFish said...

Hi Teresa

My inner critic, like Rebecca's, doesn't know what she's talking about. In my head she sounds like a friend of mine. This friend, in real life, has actually said several times when referring to stories of mine: 'You know, the one where you go here/do this.'

I say, no, it's not me, the story's not about me, I MAKE STUFF UP. She doesn't believe me... I say, well when was I ever knocked down by a bike in a park or lost my memory for an hour? She says:'Well I know, but it's still you'.

Ho hum

Rachel Fenton said...

My inner-critic is...hang on - this is like some therapy circle or something...Inner-critics Anonymous...

Ahem. My name is Rachel and I have several inner-critics. One is a very real person whom I cannot name for reasons of very reality. I think she's correct a lot of the time, but sometimes, I do things in my writing that I know will piss her off, and that's me, being brave (or stupid - or both). Another inner-critic is just me, but reading with reader eyes instead of writer eyes. She makes me delete all of the last ten comments I made, and write this piece of daftitude and leave it.

Teresa Stenson said...

Hi Mandy - Hm, yes, I can see that'd be frustrating. I guess you get that with writing more than any other form of making stuff - no one would look at a film and think it MUST have happened to the director.

But on the other hand... the good thing is that she believes in your writing and your voice must be strong. But yeah, I know, I have a feeling when I'm writing sometimes that someone will think 'this is real' and it can make me dilute it a bit if I'm not careful. Thanks for stopping in, hope you're well.

Hi Rachel - oooh, what delights did you write then delete? He he, I've certainly done the same before. Sometimes in the comments and sometimes entire blogs, deleted cos I'm not sure I should say what I've said.

"One is a very real person whom I cannot name for reasons of very reality" - wonderfully expressed.
Those darn real ones from real reality.

I guess it's knowing when to let them in. No access in the early stages of creating, and appointments only after that.

chillcat said...

I just sent my collection out to five reader/critic/friends for last views before editing and is this a good idea? One's favourites included a piece another wanted to toss out. Another wanted to break apart the book. I'm going loopy I think.