Saturday, May 1, 2010

Everyone’s a Critic. Especially Me.

Personal statements / letters of interest are necessary evils of the worst kind. They’re totally contrived assignments that are meant to take the place of a traditional face-to-face interview, which is in and of itself filled with so much bullshit, the thought of attempting to write the bullshit down on paper is agonizing.

And I hate the idea that being able to eloquently blow my own horn is a skill that’s directly related to my career success. Where is humility and modesty in this paradigm? What about the old adage, “My work stands for itself.”

<sigh> End rant.

Neither argument has any place in the real world, I know. Because as a writer, I am the product. My letter of interest is my product description. They’re not asking me to write a letter of interest to gauge my skill at writing letters of interest. They want a one-page glimpse into me. What am I like? Do I get the creative process? Am I someone they’d want to work with? Or am I a nutjob?

I’ve always told actors that to be successful, you need to be a little bit of a diva. You need to walk into every audition knowing that the part absolutely deserves to be yours, no matter who you saw in the waiting room that might be better for the role. Staunch self-confidence is a must at all times.

So when it comes to being a writer, why is self-assurance so much harder to anchor?

Maybe it’s because, as someone once told me, being a writer is simply the ongoing process of trying to get the critic off your shoulder. My critic is always there on my shoulder, and she’s as stubborn as my Taurus self. I can calm her with meditation or chocolate, but she’s always at the ready with doubtful comments and eye rolls galore.

She’s bad enough when I’m working on a script, but when I sit down to write a personal statement about how fantastic I am, she’s suddenly an Olympian in her criticism. I can only hope to distract her with hot chocolate long enough to get out one double-spaced page about my value. After that, it’s back to the critic’s table.

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