My inner critic is a haughty older woman who lives in a big house and wears red lipstick, too much makeup, and has big teased red hair. She wears lots of jewelry and heavy shoes so you hear the rattle of her bracelets and the thud of her shoes when she’s approaching.
She absolutely doesn’t want me to write anything that will reveal my true nature because she thinks the world will hurt me. She’d rather me be inauthentic and superficial rather than genuine and deep. She is afraid criticism will cut me to the quick, which is ironic since she herself is so critical.
I have learned to skirt around her by writing as fast as I can but she’s pretty quick even in those heavy shoes. The minute I start revealing more than she thinks I should, I can hear her running down the stairs, those bracelets banging against each other in the process. Her favorite warnings are, “Be careful. No, no, no! and Do you really want to say that?”
Lots of times she wins. I stop, pull back, get scared and then write something else. She is one powerful force in my life and what makes her even stronger is her ostensible motive of protecting me. Rather than me looking critically at what motivates this critical part of my brain and standing up to her fear, I back pedal instead, thinking, “Uh, maybe she’s right.”
The truth is on one level she is right. If I am open, then I leave myself vulnerable to criticism. On the other hand, if I’m closed and self-protecting, then what’s the point of getting words on the page in the first place? They are banal, empty, boring, and far from helpful to anyone, including myself. At least if I share what I really feel, I might have one person who feels that connection and not feel so alone. That is enough for me to try to evade this power monger who isn’t really trying to keep me safe but rather keep me vanilla and out of touch with myself.
So, my resolve is to write as best I can exactly what I think and feel. That way I am at least authentic and that’s good enough as far as my motivation to write. If I learn about myself through my writing, that is a decent reason to write. If in the process my writing touches another person, then that’s even better.
She’s glaring at me now, hands on hips, giving me that look that screams, “Oh, that is so stupid!”
Still, I’ll just hit send and head upstairs. No worries, she’ll be back tomorrow. At that time, I’ll do my best to outrun her again.