Oct. 1st, 2014


Oct. 1st, 2014 09:07 am
dampscribbler: (animecon)
I get these little insights sometimes -- kind of frequently, these days. The kind of insights that almost make me roll my eyes at their obviousness, except that the new understand is so welcome that I can't roll my eyes, only get a little excited that I *finally* get something that is probably as plain as the nose on my face (intentional cliche.)

This morning I woke up a little too early, which was terrific because most mornings last week I woke up a lot too early and was then stuck, bored, and tired. Today I just got to do a little thinking and of course a touch of hoping that I wouldn't get suddenly drowsy when it was time to get out of bed.

I was thinking about the feedback that I received from my critique group on some pages I recently shared, and how I read through their comments yesterday with only minor discomfort. I was wondering what changed from 13 and 14 years ago when I would get comments at the group and read through them later and become so uncomfortable that I would usually stop writing.

Critiques for me have generally come in one of two forms: "This is great, do more," or "I don't understand this."  Then there are line edits -- comments on spelling, punctuation, and grammar. To "this is great, do more," I usually had the response "I don't think I can, I probably just got lucky there."  To "I don't understand," my response was usually "okay, I can fix that," or about equally often, "I don't know what to do about that."  But, the line edits really did me in. Pointing out errors or possible errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation caused me to feel shame, or anger, or both. Probably because "English" was my best subject in school, and "English" was really about those things. I wanted or needed to be above reproach, I guess. I still was a little uncomfortable with it yesterday, but not to the extent that it made me feel shame.

It was laying in bed this morning that I was finally able to give a name to that emotion -- shame. Shame is an intense, unpleasant emotion. Guilt says "I have done something wrong," and leaves room for making amends. Shame says "I am bad." There's not a lot of room, there. You can turn it around, get angry at the other person, decide that instead they are bad (therefore making yourself above their reproach), but it really doesn't leave space for "this can be amended." And as soon as I was able to name that feeling, "shame," I understood what happened next -- the long break before I could write again. I had to spend a good bit of time and energy getting past "I am bad," and all the self-doubt or self-loathing that came along with it,  to sit down and take that risk again.

Knowing that feelings of shame may come up as I look at my writing and people's responses to it is, I think, going to be really helpful. 


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