"Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how."
So, I've been writing for a while now, and podcasting for a few years, wherein I've shared a few of my stories. Other podcasts have run my work, I've appeared on many other shows, and received praise and award nominations. But I still haven't quite gotten used to criticism.
Two episodes of the Dunesteef, in particular, were big generators of criticism and complaints. The first, I talk about all the time, because, hey, eff 'em if they can't take a joke. The second, well, it really bummed me out, to the point where I never ran another story like that on the show again. It sort of threw my whole worldview into question when I discovered that a story that I loved (and had been loved by others) was cliched, trite, preachy, naive, and unrealistic. And badly-dialogued. Can yuo beleeve that, coming form mee?
Anyhow, I keep trying to toughen up, knowing that to be a creative person (or, dare I say, an artist), you've got to expect criticism. You've got to expect people not to like what you do. You've got to know how to take it.
And I've apparently not yet learned it.
Just today, somebody took a swipe at me online (Big says it was probably just a joke, but I was too cowardly to verify), and instead of shrugging it off and saying, "That's, like, just your opinion, man" (when there is some pretty weighty evidence on the other side of the argument) . . . I chose to eat an entire lasagna in front of the computer and not leave the house for the rest of the day.
I know a lot of creative people, mostly through doing my podcast. Some are extraordinarily talented in a certain area, some are all-around great artists, and some are just ambitious and persistent. Whenever I talk to people who are successful, they sound confident and driven, two things they need in order to keep getting up when life gets them down.
And life gets everybody down. Scary, mean old unfair life. The trick to survival is to bend and not break. To grit your teeth and take it, thus being all the tougher the next go-round.
My buddy B.D. Anklevich is always complaining about being too fat, too old, and too gay. He tries not to be, but from time to time, he slips up and eats a whole bag of Black Licorice M&Ms, turns another year older, and makes out with the coatcheck boy at a twink club. But does he despair when he stumbles?
Well, yeah, he probably does, a little. But then, he gets back up. He brushes himself off, pays the coatcheck boy, and tries again not to eat too much (currently, he's sworn off of all soda, even though his wife will drink Dr. Pepper while standing over him in bed, singing, "I know something yooooou'll never have"), tries to stay in shape and keep the calendar at bay, and tries . . . well, he's a pretty butch guy, actually.
I've always been the one kid who could get eight or nine positive comments on a story or drawing, but still only focus on the one person who didn't like it.* I know this is a character flaw, and has hurt me in many ways, both personally and professionally. It's been decades, and yet this tendency doesn't seem to be fading soon.
Holy hand grenade, what if it never does?
Well, I have to try
I'm gonna keep getting up, though. I know my hide seems to be made of vanilla pudding (no name brand rather than Jell-O too), but I'm going to keep trying to stay positive, brush off criticism, and keep on asking "Why not?" when someone scoffs, "Why?"
Rish "Wear Sunscreen" Outfield
*I originally typed "the one kid who could hit a single, a triple, and two doubles, but still only focus on that sixth inning strike-out," but I knew it would be too obviously a lie.