How Willy Wonka talks me down after a harsh critique.

I’ve had a few harsh critiques of late and I think in the midst of the trauma, I must have created and alter-ego to help me through the pain.  Just for kicks, I thought I’d let you in on what goes on in my head after a particularly demoralizing critique.  So without any further ado – here’s Willy, my alter ego and muse.  🙂

Hi there.  I can’t help but notice the big, self-satisfied grin on your face, my dear!

Oh, what’s that? You just wrote something brilliant?

Oh my!  The words must have flowed from your fingers as you typed each sentence and every comma and period dabbed like an expensive perfume.  You read it several times didn’t you, after you wrote it – just for the joy of reading such breathtaking prose?

I thought so! Oh, don’t pretend to be humble now!

You’re going to do what?

You are so certain of how brilliant you are that you have decided to find an online writing critique group and put it up for critique.

But not for them to correct anything?  But, oh so humbly, you admit that perhaps there might be a minor typo here and there – but nothing major.

No, you’re going to post it online to show writers how it’s done.  Impressive.

Oh, pardon me, I’ll move out of the way.  I can see your itching to get online as soon as possible.

Wow, look at you!  Search. Click. Post. BAM! And do some laundry.

So, that’s how it’s done!

Well, I guess you don’t need me around making silly comments as you wait and do laundry.  I’ll leave you alone for now and be back in an hour…

(An hour later…)

Oh, what’s this? What happened? Look at you!  Why are you lying in that pile of dirty towels?

What’s that?  It’s a little hard to understand you right now.  You seem a little congested.  Do you have a cold?

You’ve been what?  Lying?

Oh, no that’s not it. You’ve been crying?  Oh, dear.  Do tell me what happened.  Yes, yes, you posted on the critique forum and then what? You’re a waste of a life?

Oh, don’t say such things!  You are not a waste of a–, what’s that?

You want a kitten to smother?!? Oh, you should be ashamed! What a nasty thing to say!  Why would you want to do such a horrible thing?

Because you are a terrible waste of a per– yes, well, after a statement like that, I’m inclined to agree!

Oh, and don’t do the crawling around on the floor like a worm shtick.  It doesn’t work on me anymore.  It was a terrible thing to say, after all.

Really now.   You do know how old that pop tart is, don’t you?  And I’m hurt that you would reach for a pop tart!  You know I make the best chocolate in the world!

Okay, time for Mr. Cheerfully Sarcastic Willy Wonka to do some damage control. But please, for God’s sake, put the stale, half-eaten pop tart down! Take a deep breath and I’ll make some tea.  I think Chamomile will do the trick.

So, nobody liked it?  Not even one?

Oh, don’t start crying again.  Breathe.

They called it what?  Boring repetitive prose, trope-y and ‘meh’?  Oh, dear.  That must sting a bit.  But it can’t all be bad.  Did they like anything?

No? Okay, okay, hush now, here’s your tea.

Do you agree with their critique?  Perhaps maybe you got a little ahead of yourself – your enthusiasm for a new idea made you want to share it a bit prematurely?

You don’t know what to believe anymore?  Why bother trying, you say?

Oh my, look dear, I realize it stings and how demoralizing a harsh critique can be.  Do you have any idea how many times the Umpa Loompas spit out my latest chocolate creation in disgust before I got it right?  They’re cute, I’ll admit, but they’re terribly picky those little buggers!  But where would I be without  their palates?  Hmm?

Maybe these forum people don’t hate you or think you’re a waste of a life.  Maybe they want you to be the best writer you can be, so much, they are willing to tell you the truth – even it makes you squirm around in a pile of dirty laundry until you fall asleep in the fetal position.

I’m sure these feelings will subside in a day or two and you’ll feel much better and you’ll be able to take a second look at the critiques with fresh eyes and put them to good use.

You’ll never write again?

Oh, don’t be ridiculous – we both know that’s not true. As a matter of fact, I’m positive you will, because we just did this a month ago with the last story.  Remember?


Ah,  like the pain of labor.  No one remembers exactly how bad it was after the baby is born.  Because if we did, our pathetic species would have died out long ago.

And we don’t want stories not to be told or movies not to be filmed or chocolate not to be made, now do we?

But don’t worry.

I’ll always be here for you with a box of tissues, and tea.

And of course, chocolate.

Your Muse,



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