Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Skin-Thickening 101

Heck, maybe it's a remedial course I need, like Pre-Intro To Skin-Thickening.

"Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults.  If you succeed in doing this, tell me how."
Baz Luhrmann

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.


Rob Broughton said...

Over the last few weeks I listened to Outcasts 9-13 and the last few Dunesteefs and That Gets My Goats. I'm a years-long listener, but I was behind: I was saving them up for long distance commuting, because they make the time fly by.

Anyway, some comments:

* I like your stories; they inspire emotional responses in me. None of those emotions are bad. They're the things like amusement, thoughtfulness, and tension that you generally try to cause in your readers. I think you succeed.

* I like your skits, too. The Optimus Prime / Megatron one was epic; I even saved it to replay for some friends. And that skit about Sea Monkeys made me very happy.

* Your Babysitter of the Month posts and podcasts are always entertaining. I hope you'll keep doing them, and keep having your nephew in skits and otherwise part of your stuff.

* I really, really hope that you and Big can recover from this drought of enthusiasm and continue with your pursuits for a long time coming. I worry that if you guys drop the Dunesteef it'll stall out a lot of your creative momentum... plus I want to keep listening to your banter! That Gets My Goat episodes are delightful.

I was on these podcast-listening commutes with my roommate. I only recently introduced him to you and the Dunesteef, but he's caught on quick. He and I share some tastes, but we still have a lot of differences... and yet, we BOTH agree with every bullet point above.

We also both wish you'd take it a little easier on yourself! I'm willing to bet that's partially because we are hard on ourselves as well, and maybe we're trying to glean some hope that if you can cut yourself some slack then maybe we can do the same for ourselves someday? Whoa, deep.

But mostly I think we want you to take it easy on yourself because just by listening we've both decided we like you, Rish. You're cool by us.

And remember: Friendship is Magic.

Rish Outfield said...

Rob, thank you very much for your kind and extensive post. It means a great deal that you would bring up so many things I've worked on that you appreciate, and I shared it with Big, hoping he'd dig it as well.

Blogging, podcasting, writing, doing audiobooks, drawing, pooing . . . they're all pretty solitary activities, and it's cool to know that there is more than one person out there who anticipates each new release, and enjoys most or all of them when they come out. It makes me want to put out more.

It reminds me of my favorite "internet personality" (or whatever you call the people who do what we do), who puts out a show somewhat-regularly, and never, ever fails to make me smile, or make my day when he puts one out there. I keep trying to post there, to let him know that his hard work has, somehow, made my world a brighter place, but the damned login feature on the site doesn't work for me, and when I claim to have forgotten my password and enter my email address . . . I get nothing. But I wish I could tell him and thank him, and let him actually understand that his stuff means something to me, and not sound sappy.

One day (hopefully not soon), I will post about the first time I met Stan Lee, and how I wracked my brain for something to tell him in the seconds I had in front of The Man. It's kind of a similar story.

But I digress. Thanks again for your comment. I will try to put stuff out there, and not get discouraged that people seem to agree with that nasty voice in the back of my head that my talents are somewhat limited.