The Rotten Deal

A writer writes something one day and thinks it's pretty darn grand, this thing she has written.  She wrote it, most likely, in an ecstatic state, inspired by some little thing that passed her way.  This little thing ignited a little fire that burned very brightly and voila! She turned this little thing into a rather grand work of art. She believes, unconsciously, that this little thing she has written is an extension of her own self, like slicing a piece of her soul and putting it on a plate for others to taste.*

Perhaps this thing she wrote is an assignment, and she is very excited to hear what the teacher thinks of her work because, of course, she is expecting the teacher to adore it as much as she does, though she tells herself that this is not the case, that she wants the teacher to be honest, not because she wants the teacher to say it's mediocre, but because she wants the teacher's praise to be honest.

She goes about the day feeling very good about herself, smiling and being kind and generous to all, knowing that she wrote this marvelous little piece of insight that is right now penetrating the mind of another person, not just any person, but a person who will be awed by her eloquence and intelligence and talk about her to other people, perhaps people who are influential, people who will soon be contacting her and begging her for more.

Finally the day comes for the teacher to hand back the assignments. The teacher expresses some dismay over the low quality of the assignments, but the writer of the grand little piece knows the teacher is not talking about her, but her fellow classmates, some of whom, she knows, are incapable of writing a wonderful anything. Still, her heart is beating so frantically that her hands are shaking when the teacher returns her assignment. She flips through the pages searching for the praise she knows she deserves, but finds only marks noting wrong word choices, awkward sentence constructions, and confusing plot twists. She is unimpressed by the few notes of nice, good, and interesting, because they are so small and understated as to be rude. She feels as if she has been stabbed. A great tide of anger swells up, making her realize that her teacher is foolish, mean, and arrogant. How dare she suggest ways that the grand little piece can be improved. Obviously, the teacher doesn't get her style of writing. She leaves the class on the verge of tears and immediately searches out friends to show the foolish remarks her teacher made about her grand little piece. Though her friends agree with her, that her writing is marvelous, they don't show enough disdain for the teacher to make her feel much better.

Later, the anger turns into a heavy and immense sadness.

*She has read that in certain cultures, artists are looked upon as simply vehicles for the magical work of mysterious muses so that an artist, who happens to make a wonderful piece of art, is simply a lucky recipient of the muses' inspiration. This way of looking at things takes a lot of pressure off an artist when his work happens to be not so great, the muses having skipped him that day or week or month, using another artist instead.  But her culture sees this as complete nonsense.


  1. I can recommend Chapter One of "The Artists Way". It is all about getting these negative voices out of your head, and moving closer to the reverent attitude you describe.

    1. And fortunately for me, you bought me a copy! Thanks for that. A glass of wine might help as well.

    2. Sad, but at least grist for literature. The coach chews your a__ _ s out and all that is left is the sting. The promotion seems less and less likely but it just brings lassitude. And ungrateful children, don't even let me get started on that one. No, get that heartache down on paper, get it in the archives, you can make it last for future generations. Grandpa John