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Somewhere in a distant time, in the mid-70s, a college professor returned a piece of writing to me with more red than the original black of my submission. I suspect she meant well. Perhaps she saw in me some potential that she was trying to hone and direct and challenge and improve. Or maybe she was simply tired of crappy student submissions and was taking out on me all her suppressed rage.
It doesn’t matter. The effect was the same: I quit writing anything other than what I had to write. This blog has always been my attempt to tentatively break free from the haunting of all that red ink.
There are not many of you who read this blog, but you who do, and now you who support it, have been a great encouragement for me to get the red out of my eyes. I am grateful.
Every writer who has ever discussed the craft challenges those who write to write daily, and to do so whether the fruit of that writing is good or bad. It will frequently be bad. I don’t have the time to write daily, or to experiment, or to even write all that I would like. But I can guarantee you that what I write will frequently be bad, but that I will press on nevertheless.
4 thoughts on “Getting the Red Out of My Eyes”
We are so quick to let another person’s criticism, whether kindly or cruelly meant, confirm our own suspicion that we aren’t good enough. You speak of discipline (Ollie McLellan from “Hoosiers”) in another piece – wouldn’t it be nice to meet the challenge of self-doubt with the discipline of trust? Trust that what urges us to try – writing, painting, running, basketball, whatever – is worthy of our attention and effort, regardless of outcome? Think of the ways our lives would be richer if we trusted external voices less, and followed these interior callings more? I’m truly glad you are getting the red out and writing!
I agree in many ways. But there is art (if I may be so pretentious to introduce that term here) that requires and audience. I don’t think there are many who write or draw or speak or sing or compose simply for their own pleasure. They do so for an audience, even if that audience is only one or two. So the writer, painter, or whatever IS concerned for the response of his audience, if he wants what he is saying to be heard. The task, of course, is making sure that we are listening to the right audience. If we value the wrong voices, as I did 39 years ago, we will shut down.
Agreed. For so many years, I wrote only in my journal. Once I actually started having readers, I loved writing so much more – because then it became more than inner dialogue! Art, communication, dialogue…suddenly there was relationship!
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