Friday, March 12, 2010

Beating Myself Up

Writers can be hard on themselves. At least this one can. I definitely have my self-pugilistic tendencies. I am, as they say, aware of the issue. Yet the issue remains an issue.

Actors are the same way. See, for example, this New York Times profile of John Goodman, published when he was appearing as Pozzo in a new production of Waiting for Godot.

A couple of paragraphs:

"In person Mr. Goodman is not the stereotypical jolly fat man. For all his success, he remains full of self-doubt. Compliments make him wince, and his conversational default mode is self-deprecation. He sometimes seems to be eyeing himself with suspicion.

"Mr. Goodman’s friend Tom Arnold, whom he got to know during the years he starred on 'Roseanne,' said: 'John is much too hard on himself. He’s got that thing. I have it too. That fat kid thing. No matter what, we look in a mirror, and that’s what we see. It comes out in a lot of different ways. I’ve seen him pounding walls over a line in a sitcom. Probably it wasn’t even a good line, but John thinks he should have done it better.'”

I was a chubby kid. So maybe there's something there. Eyeing myself with suspicion? You bet. And I think I inherited the perfectionist gene from my parents.

Whenever a story gets published, my wife will ask how it feels. When I see a story in print or online, I'll start to squirm, I see everything that's wrong, that could have been better. I have to look away. Most of the time, I can't even bring myself to read the words. Once something is published, I rarely look at it again.

It's a good thing in that I'm always trying to do better, to get it right, to be a better writer.

But it's a bad thing when I can't even enjoy the small successes I've had.

A writer friend once told me: "Be nicer to yourself."

I'm trying, trying...


Lydia Ship said...

Recently I read "Apology" and loved it so much I had to come check out the blog. "Are You Somebody" and "Why We Came to Target" are also fantastic, so this blog's a great find, and don't be so hard on yourself, eh?

Andrew Roe said...

Hi Lydia,

Thanks so much for reading my stories and checking out my blog. I'm so glad you liked what you read.

And I've made a vow to not be so hard on myself.

I'll be sure to check out your blog too.