Monday 26 April 2010

Part V: Vulnerability

Writers are vulnerable to a variety of things, but I think, above all, our egos are the most vulnerable. We can be a vain bunch - us writers, and a bruised ego and a writer are like two peas in a pod. I don't think a writer can ever be void of vulnerability - vulnerability to a writer, is like a prosthetic limb to a war veteran - it's heavy, it's hard, it's stiff, and our movements are somewhat choppy because of it; we are vexed by it's existence, but we can't do anything about it - if we vanish it, we aren't able to function properly, we are slightly vacant, our true voice loses its value - our drive to move forward is somewhat more vague than usual. We need it to validate our purpose in this world.

Vulnerability is valuable. It makes us vigilant. Although our vanity is constantly on the verge of violently tipping our vulnerability off the edge - vulnerability always wins. Yes, sometimes its volume makes me want to vomit. Sometimes the vibes created by my vulnerability make me want to vent with a bottle of vodka to my lips. But I wouldn't be me without it. Removing it would mean vandalising my soul.

I, personally, am vulnerable to bruising my own ego, rather than someone else's vindictive comments bruising it for me. If my ego is bruised as a result of another writer's vote, I can accept it, I can take it in my stride, I can learn from it without sacrificing my vivaciousness. But if I discover something about my own writing, that makes me doubt my ability, I can't shake it. It sits on my shoulder and yap yap yaps into my ear like a venomous parrot, and I'm constantly on the verge of tears.

I haven't learned how to deal with my inner critic like I have learned how to deal with external critics. Have you? How do you bruise your ego back?


  1. Ithink you put it in a nutshell, being vunerable is all too common, especially in the writing profession.
    I enjoyed your post as always.

    Enjoy your day.

  2. I can't find the quote, but a writer once remarked, paraphrased: Writing is like standing in front of the world and pulling your pants down.

    It's like that. I agree completely. Good writers write, sure, but GREAT writers confess.

    Tough getting your nose bent. But, you gotta take it, because it's gonna happen.

    Me, when I get chunked, I write something new. I never get stuck on one story for long.

    - Eric

  3. It's hard to take criticism of any kind. I'm not very good at it myself. I've got an award for you at my blog today :)

  4. I hear a lot of writers talk about how other writers should be tough (in terms of taking rejection), but in truth, we really are an artsy, vulnerable lot.

    As far as I can see, there's a lot more to be gained from vulnerability in terms of how it affects our writing. Toughness never helped the prose!

  5. Great post. Again, your capacity for incorporating alliteration into your articles never ceases to impress! lol. I think I'm harder on myself than other people are. I don't stomach criticism well but I know how to take it into account once I've sat on it for a while. I figure I'm a work in progress just as much as my wip's are. I can't be too hard on myself cause there's always room for improvement.

  6. Yeah, writers are often their own worst critics, mainly because we love the work so much. A lot of friends/family or even aquaintences don't want to point out what's wrong sometimes because they're afraid to hurt us, but a writer's shield of self-love cannot stand up to self-criticism.
    But there is a defense against the vulnerability, you know? Love for the work. More often, as my stories grow dearer to me, I find myself thinking, "That doesn't work? *sigh* Back to work then." instead of "That doesn't work? I'll NEVER get this right!"
    Anyway, good post, it was thoughtful, and I loved your analogy. And excellent use of 'v's. :)

  7. Hi. I'm new to your blog, lured here by your profile both as a writer and a fellow Australian, albeit living in Greece.

    As for the issue of vulnerability it's a thorny one. You might want to check out Elizabeth Gilbert's talk on TED, if you haven't yet seen it. See:

    She addresses the issue well, to some extent, I think.

    Writers need to develop thick hides and strong chins, if they are to persevere.

    Good to meet you here. I look forward to visiting again.

  8. I guess vulnerability is there for all of us... I know it is for me. I just keep reminding myself that I only have one life, and it's ticking away as I debate about whether or not I should keep on going down this path I'm on. I can keep going or stand still... either way the clock keeps ticking. Ya know?

    Have a great Monday!! :D

  9. I'm my own worst critic - I think. I've found, though, that some things are harder to take from others than myself, and vice versa.

    I think the key is to finding a balance - if you find one, please share ;)

  10. I saw your blog on 'Coming down the Mountain' and thought I'd drop in. Happy I did. I really, really loved your comments today. For I am also vulnerable and thought you touched Me, the vulnerable me. So, I also loved your comment: But I wouldn't be me without it. Removing it would mean vandalising my soul.

  11. Hi - I just started following your blog!

    I remember getting rejection letters on my first novel (tried to get it published when I was 17), and I tried most of the publishing houses in Norway at the time. They all said no, but I wasn't really that dissapointed. Many of them told me reasons why they didn't want to publish - and I could see that they were right. When I get bad news I just sit back and think about it, and usually that helps a lot.

  12. I think the trick is to WORK the vulnerability. Oh, I know, easier said than done, but writers who really USE it end up writing the truly moving works.

    Loved all your V words!

  13. "Although our vanity is constantly on the verge of violently tipping our vulnerability off the edge - vulnerability always wins."

    That was beautiful alliteration.

  14. I admit it, when people criticize my work my first instinct is to burst into tears. But I've slowly gotten used to it now. Maybe I've grown thicker skin. Who knows.

  15. "But if I discover something about my own writing, that makes me doubt my ability, I can't shake it."

    Amen to that! No one can be more brutal to my overall ego than myself. Once I believe the bad stuff I'm telling myself, it's a never ending internal battle.

  16. I'm at the stage where I welcome criticism because when people sugar-coat their thoughts about my writing, they're not helping me at all. But it took a long time for me get here. The first time anyone read my ms, it felt like I was standing there completely naked and I was trying to cover myself up. Now, I point out my flabby arms, and my stretch marks and force people to comment on them. I tell all my critique partners, they can't say anything nice, unless they can point out a flaw at the same time, preferably on the same page. Great post!

  17. I bow down to your alliterative awesomeness. The only thing I've found that works for me is time. Time takes the sting out of any wound even those soul deep ego bruises we inflict on ourselves. I also find that no matter how awful I decide I am my need to write always manages to eventually shout down that nasty little voice telling me I'm no good.

  18. Goodness me oh my you used the letter V very well! You're amazing!!!

    My ego was bruised today, it isn't easy to handle and at first I was over dramatic about it and luckily Lisa & Laura shared a post today about thinking one thing but taking the real phrase completely out of context. I realized that I had taken offense to what they had said about my work when it wasn't meant that way at all, they wanted to help me, make me a better writer. Once I calmed down and went back to see what they had adjusted I realized they had done just that... helped me!

  19. Great V words! I'm impressed!

    I used to be really vulnerable to criticism - and I still am - but I think I'm getting getting better. If it makes my writing better, it's worth it. I try not to take it personally, as hard as that can be.

  20. Well I am certainly my own worst critic. I can find a million reasons how my work can be much so, that I argue with people who like my stories...duh!

  21. As always a great use of the letter of the day. I find my self vulnerable to both outer and inner critics but find that I tend to ponder on my own views more than others too.

  22. Writing is easy- I just sit down at my typewriter and open a vein

    I forgot who said that but your post reminded me of that quote

  23. Jessica! I love your alliteration! You're so creative.

    My vulnerability lies with friendships. I want a writerly pal that will call me whenever she wants to. You know? Like to see how I'm doing, how crazy my house is. Or even to brainstorm together. *Sigh*

    That's is my vulnerable spot right now.

    My other one is time. It's my enemy. It's sooo fast and I have sooo many edits to go through...

    Hey, girl... I want you to email me! Please?? elizabethmueller6 AT gmail DOT com.

    Hang in there.

    PS--Thanks for your new pic. You are SOO pretty! <3

  24. Yvonne: Thanks :)

    Eric: What a great quote. I'll have to remember that.

    Karen: Thanks again for the award :)

    India: Exactly. We should embrace our vulnerability and put it to good use.

    Creepy: yeah. I hear ya.

    Bethany: Sounds like you got yourself together! :)

    Elisabeth: Thanks for stopping by. I love to see new faces :) Great to see a fellow Australian too. Thanks for the link.

    B: Nice words there, B. "I can keep going or stand still ...either way the clock keeps ticking." Beautiful.

    Kittie: Thanks! I'm glad you did stop by! :)

    Alexandra: Another new face :) This is my lucky day :D thanks!

    Hart: yep. I agree.

    Matthew: Thank you. I appreciate that.

    Whisperer: Hi! another new face. Nice to meet you :) yeah I burst into tears too. I think I go overboard with the tears sometimes to be honest.

    Tracy: LOL yes my darling, me too.

    Keirah: Oh I love other people criticising me. It help me tremendously. It's my own criticism that gets me down. Buggar that, hey? Seeing as I can't exactly tell myself to piss off. ;)

    Angie: I bow back :)

    Jen: Aww, you'll see the good in it more and more as you progress.

    Talli: Thanks! Yes it can be hard, but I think I've got tougher skin now too. :)

    Raquel: LOL

    Wanda: Thanks! I think we all do.

    Ee Leen Lee: That's awesome. I love it! Welcome to my blog, and thanks fro dropping by. :)

    Elizabeth M: I posted my email on your blog, if you'd like to ask me those questions about Greece ;) Thanks about the photo! :)

  25. I try to find a positive - any positive - and spin it! Vulnerability is a tough one, but you're right - it makes us stronger and better. :-)

  26. I, too, am much more vulnerable to my own internal critic than to anything anyone else can say to me. For awhile I belonged to a zero-sugarcoating critique group, and they could say some pretty rough things...but honestly, nothing they said could come close to matching the criticisms I had for my own work.

  27. You said it straight up... We put ourselves on the line... and many times we are our worst critic when we write... I usually don't like posting any entries if I feel like I didn't do my best or if it doesn't flow... I think the older I get the more open I am about sharing my thoughts on paper than 10 years ago... when all my writing was private...

    This time around, I was having a hard time thinking of V words... and you did great! I don't think I have learned how to deal with my inner critic yet mostly because I tend to internalize everything in the first place. I over think everything... :-/

  28. I agree whole heartedly with Hart the Tart(Watery Tart). Give me a vulnerable writer's words any day. Personally, I don't think I will ever look at my work and be 100% happy, even when I sell millions ;P Being vulnerable means you're always striving....just don't let your vulnerabilities keep you from finishing your work. Great post you smart bitch you!


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris