[Note: Due to my current, hopefully temporary state of swampedness-by-work, this week's Weekly Post is reprinted from alexconnal
's original, with minor changes]The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
—Henry David Thoreau
Cameron has several topics this week:
Anger is a powerful motivator, if we let it be a motivator instead of denying we feel it or burying it as deep as we can manage. For example: angry at a filmmaker for making a poorer film than one could do oneself? Time to learn how to make films. "Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy," says Cameron. "Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests." She continues, "Anger is not the action itself. It is action's invitation."
[. . .]
Shame is another weapon against us. People try to make us feel ashamed of ourselves for doing things that embarrass them. Often the making of art is among those things. A lot of criticism of art is meant to make us feel ashamed of poor art, or art that's poor in the critic's eye, but poor art is a necessity in order to get to good art and also the critic doesn't necessarily know what they're talking about. Especially if they're disparaging or dismissive or ridiculing or condemning, which are the things critics do to create shame in the person critiqued.
Of course, hardly any good art got that way without some helpful person showing the artist where to improve. Dealing with criticism is a necessity. The distinction between useful and useless criticism, however, is vital. Cameron has a list of rules for dealing with criticism of any sort:
1) Receive the criticism all the way through and get it over with.
2) Jot down notes to yourself on what concepts or phrases bother you.
3) Jot down notes on what concepts or phrases seem useful.
4) Do something very nurturing for yourself--read an old good review or recall a compliment.
5) Remember that even if you have made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be a necessary stepping-stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.
6) Look at the criticism again. Does it remind you of any criticism from your past--particularly shaming childhood criticism? Acknowledge to yourself that the current criticism is triggering grief over a long-standing wound.
7) Write a letter to the critic--not to be mailed, most probably. Defend your work and acknowledge what was helpful, if anything, in the criticism proffered.
8) Get back on the horse. Make an immediate commitment to do something creative.
9) Do it. Creativity is the only cure for criticism.
"Growth is an erratic forward movement," Cameron says: "two steps forward, one step back." A week will go really well; a week will go really poorly. Don't get discouraged. This is normal. The morning pages will seem a waste of time. They're not, but seeing them as such is also normal. Cameron suggests, as well as keeping up with the morning pages and artist's dates, being kind to yourself in small ways. Eat better; buy a house plant; take five to meditate or stretch or just be; take a moment, several times a day, to ask yourself how you're feeling, and listen to your answer, and respond kindly.
Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week, and do your morning pages every day!