Barbarians at the (Car) Window…

The image here is what I wish had happened a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the thieves didn’t steal a barbarian’s car, they stole mine. Grrr.

As quick background, it was a rough week generally. I was sick as a dog, but still forced to spend hours a night chipping at ice beside our house–occasionally with an axe and a flashlight, which must have made my neighbours feel very reassured. 🙂 –to keep the melting ice from the field behind us from pouring into our basement. The freaky ice storm had filled the ditch that was supposed to protect that from happening with solid ice. What a winter.

Anyway, I came home from an exhausting day at work on the subway, looked for my car in the parking lot and… didn’t find it. So I had to walk in the rain, coughing, to pick up my son from his school on time, and call my wife to gather us up. And life has been filled since then with fighting this cold, struggling with the related exhaustion and all the minor tasks that come with replacing a car. While still battling the melting ice, although I think maybe I’ve started to make a dent in that battle. No pun intended.

All minor things in the great tilting field that is life, I know. But it felt good to jot down this cartoon and imagine a barbarian chasing those dratted thieves down the road, wishing they’d picked a different career choice. 🙂

If only…

The Naked Audition (or ‘Writing is Hard’)

(PS, despite the title, the figure in the image above is wearing a bathing suit. Just to be clear. 🙂 )

Writing is hard.

Submitting is hard.

And criticism is hardest still.

Putting your work out there is like stepping into a naked modeling audition and waiting for the judges to comment. The spot lights are hot, their expressions cold and clinical, and there is nowhere to hide, especially when the comments begin. And God forbid someone laughs…

It may be worthwhile; it may be a necessary step towards your dream; but one thing it is not: Easy.

I say this because I think that many writing blogs, including mine so far, don’t want to dwell on it. We want to put a positive vibe out into the world, we want to be seen by future business partners (agents and editors) as upbeat, professional, go-getters that they would like to work with, and that they won’t have to coddle and wipe our tears. That we’re confident. Capable. People who pick themselves up and learn from failure, not let it derail them.

So let’s assume we’re all that. For the most part it’s true. But the truth is that being naked in front of a crowd is still hard, even if the judges are sincerely trying to help you. Unless you’re Brad Pitt (and maybe even for him).

So if you’re an aspiring writer and you find yourself struggling to write in the afternoon after a painful rejection or critique that morning, don’t be too harsh on yourself. The sting will pass. If it feels like you’ve just been told that your spare tire is showing, or  you could do a little more upper body work, don’t worry. Don’t write off the advice, necessarily. Presumably you wanted it for a reason. Or maybe it’s just the price of getting your work out there. But if you find yourself standing mutely in the spotlight, sweat trickling slowly down your back, and your cheeks warming  in embarrassment–

It’s okay. For Heaven’s sake; it’s okay. Take a breath, compose yourself.

Smile politely, don’t argue, thank the judges, and take their advice. Eat better and do the recommended extra upper body work. Or don’t, in the belief that someone else will find you beautiful just the way you are. It could well be true. Writing is a subjective business, with many genres and stylistic preferences, even between publishing houses.

But my point is this: you can be professional, talented, and headed for amazing things. And you’ll still experience rejection and critique (except for Brad). And criticism and rejection is hard.

It’s a spot that all writers find themselves in, sooner or later… From what I hear, both before and after publication.

If it helps, you’re not alone. And maybe it helps me to remind myself that I’m not either. 🙂

Here’s wishing success for all of us! (Even Brad. Even if he needs it less than most. Because I still like his movies.)


For the record, while this blog will remain positive and I have no intention on dwelling on every rejection or critique, or letting them derail me from accomplishing my goals, minor or major, I may link to this post once in a while.

Because some days are  better than others. 🙂


This image was created for this post, inspired by a fast computer sketch I did while writing it. A bit different style, but hey, who says I have to be consistent? 🙂