I don’t care what you do. Your severest critic is you. And if you are a writer, increase that severity to an infinite power.
We second-guess ourselves mercilessly. We fuss over minute details. We agonize over using just the right word. Some of us have trashed completed stories after a final read because our inner critic dismissed it as so much drivel. But while our inner critic can prove debilitating, for the most part it keeps us on the straight and narrow and doesn’t let us down as a rule.
But there’s another drawback to having such a strong inner critic. You can’t turn it off. We’ve so honed our critical eye that, if it’s not able to fuss and flail at our own creations it will turn on any target of opportunity. And so it’s gotten to the point that my inner critic has made it difficult for me to enjoy many popular entertainments.
I’ve become remarkably difficult to please.
I recently watched a very well-regarded movie. It had garnered a couple of Oscar nominations and wins, much critical acclaim. But after I viewed it I was annoyed. I just couldn’t buy many of the scenes and plot twists. One character who started out as a knuckle-dragging cretin morphed 180 degrees into a thoughtful, noble character in the space of one scene. A number of other scenes left me shaking my head mumbling, as if that could happen.
I’m not talking about a lack of willingness to suspend disbelief, something we all must do to get into say, sci-fi or fantasy. This was a contemporary drama throughout which I kept thinking this stuff just couldn’t happen.
I find myself finding fault with a lot of movies, books, etc. And I wonder if it’s just me.
I made my living as a copy editor. I’m retired, but misspellings and bad grammar still jump out at me. It was all I could do hold my tongue when I noticed pizzeria was misspelled on the awning of a local pizza joint I was patronizing. So, as you see, I’m already a bit hypercritical. But lately, it seems worse.
I’m beginning to fret whether I’ll ever be able to settle back and watch a movie, particularly one afforded critical acclaim without that voice interrupting, You gotta be kidding me. Who the heck wrote this? Are they serious?
It isn’t just me, is it. Please tell me other writers have been vexed by an overabundance of fussiness. And if you have, is there any hope for us?