(Creative) Performance Anxiety
As the release of our book nears, we fear the (lazy) critics' daggers.
Posted Jul 02, 2014
It's T minus six days before our book hits Amazon (and whatever bookstores have survived). My anxiety level has been higher than usual, which is saying something. I expected to be nothing but proud of having accomplished a project we undertook years ago, but I can't lie; I am more concerned about bad reviews (or worse, no reviews) than I ever thought I would be. When I'm seeing a patient in my office, she might think I'm an idiot. She might even tell the readers of isyourdoctorgoodbadcomeonwhatsthestory.com. But it's unlikely that I'll find my practice pilloried in the New York Times.
Paraphrasing another writer’s lament, it can take somebody five years to write a book, and a reviewer five minutes to crush it. I gotta say, I have a new respect for all artists who put themselves out there. And it made me think of how frequently I have walked out of a movie theatre, smugly pronouncing the film a piece of junk. The writers, actors, directors, along with the literally hundreds of others who worked on the production are dismissed in a moment, and often with relish. "That sucked." "The director should be ashamed." And he probably is. There’s his work for all to see. He has chosen to present it to the public, only to have (some) others discard his work and by extension a part of himself. Worse yet are the individual artists, the painters, musicians and, yes, writers who cannot hide behind their colleagues. (Fortunately we can hide behind one another if the book is panned).
And surely it will be. Not by everyone, surely. But even a single sling or arrow will pierce. Some of us have thicker skin than others when it comes to pierce-resistance. Even so, I can't imagine the toughest veteran artist being completely indifferent to public derision. One writer admitted that even if he has five positive reviews and one bad one, the negative review would be the one that sticks in his mind. While I'm confident that Suspicious Minds: How Madness Shapes Culture, released July 8th (naked plug) will be reasonably well received, there will no doubt be those who will happily declare it worthless. That will suck.
What do you philosophers have to say about the angst and narcissistic injury that come with letting it all hang out and then having it chopped off?
I will be out of the office until July 9th.
Ian Gold, PhD
I will be out of the office until some as yet to be determined point in time, likely midwinter, but don’t hold me to that.
Ian Gold, PhD
I know you’re around.
I will be out of the office until all reviews and sales figures are a distant memory in the minds of my family, my friends and the public at large. Until that time, I can be found hiding under a comfy rock in the Laurentian Mountains.
Ian Gold, PhD