Jonah / Writing

Critics Are Friends Not Food


It was not a great day, even before the review came in. Ken and I read it, kvetched a bit about it via chat, then decided to go drown the day’s sorrows in a pair of tall sodas – even though it was well after dark. Yep, that’s how close to the edge we were.

criticsThe thing was it wasn’t even that bad of a review. The critic said several nice things about the show, granted most of which were quickly followed by qualifiers (“will entertain youngsters and mildly amuse adults” and “colorful, fun and blessedly short”). For sure the review could’ve been worse. Just disappointed by what seemed like another missed opportunity to open a few new doors.

I know it’s futile to debate a critic’s review. So I won’t. She’s just doing her job. And it’s not like Likens have ever been critical darlings, especially among our own community (we take our purifying by the critic’s fire seriously around here). We do the best we can with our available resources, put our babies out there, take our critical lumps, pray that enough families like them anyway, and keep fighting the good fight.

I confess as we took our final soda swigs and were heading back to the office 15 minutes later (Mormon benders tend to be on the wild side like that), and we were wrapping up our discussion about the relative challenges of tackling A) an adaption of a scripture story; and B) on 1/300th of the budget of a “Finding Nemo” (oops, a tiny little counter-jab there), I told Ken that if we were blessed to do other projects, our next one wouldn’t be a Liken.

That hung there a few moments, then I asked Ken if I could have that last comment back. Not because I want the next project to necessarily be a Liken (although I hope we get to have that opportunity again). But because wanting to do a project in the hopes that it will please critics or peers would amount to what I’m pretty sure would be creative death to me.

About 10 years ago, after a particularly disappointing round of rejections of an over-the-top, no-way-could-Hollywood-say-no screenplay, I gave up the whole writing thing forever. “Forever” lasted about a year. Turns out I missed the writing thing. Not the rejection – pretty sure I could manage without the rejection – but the actual writing.

So I made a decision that (and I know this sounds ridiculously corny) whatever I wrote from then on would come from the heart. Let the agents, peers, critics or competition judges think what they may.

It’s been very freeing, and to tell you the truth, I think has helped my writing immensely. I write from in here and hope that it strikes a chord in there with others. With some, it does.

With others, not so much.

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3 thoughts on “Critics Are Friends Not Food

  1. Pingback: Critics Are People Not Food — P.S. « Dennis' Liken Technicolor Dream Blog

  2. I am not a writer, I am not always the best at expressing how I feel. But I am so grateful for the day my family met you and not just because Karlee got to be a part of something amazing but I have loved watching all the Liken shows with my family, I didn’t know about them until we met you.

    I have spent many hours with my kids singing the songs and crying because I felt something. Thank you for all you do and for adding something very special to my family and allowing us to feel something amazing together. We are truely grateful. In touching one person it can lead to thousands and I believe you and your brother do that!

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