Friday, October 23, 2009

Bransford on Writerly Sensitivity

Nathan Bransford muses over the role that sensitivity should play in a writer’s life. Excerpts:

To take the most obvious example, there's a proud and distinguished history of authors losing their minds over bad reviews and acting badly, to the point an author has to really, really act badly for anyone to surprised anymore (but writers also happen to be inventive types and manage to find new ways). ...


Michael Jordan is the one of the most notorious competitors and
cataloguer of slights of all time. Rumor has it he never missed an opportunity to feel slighted. The sensitive soul of an artist!

And yet: he didn't complain (at least not publicly) when he was
supposedly frozen out when he was a young All Star or when the Pistons created the "Jordan Rules," which basically entailed knocking him senseless at every opportunity, or about the height of the rims or the length of the court or David Stern or fans or anything else. Instead he set about destroying the competition on the court.

This is probably some of the most obvious advice you've ever seen on the Internet, but still! I think it's worth remembering that if you're a writer you are most likely also a sensitive type who must steel yourself from time to time and remember to channel your passion into the proper vessel: your writing.
Read the whole thing. Personally speaking, I have never struggled with being overly sensitive, never let perceived slights twist me up tighter than a spring. No. Never. Of course not. (And if you believe that, I have some beautiful lakefront property to sell you in the Everglades.) Seriously, though, harsh criticism tends to separate me from my writing. It plunges me neck-deep in despondency, and rather than crawl right out, I tend to splash around for a bit, practice my backstroke, see if I can dive all the way to the bottom. (Unfortunately, the slough gets deeper and deeper the longer you stay in it.) That’s the wrong response. Rather than wallowing in self-loathing, I ought to plow it all back into the thing that matters -- the craft.

(Picture: CC 2009 by


S.D. Smith said...

In fire lately. Another great, helpful post, LE.

Loren Eaton said...

You, sir, are far too kind. Many thanks.