Living Critically

Since beginning my writing career, one bit of advice has stayed with me at all hours. 

When reading, read critically, to understand the inner workings, the style, the author’s strengths and weaknesses, and so on.

By Gilles Barbier, source

This applies to other forms of media, like watching movies, playing games, or even deciphering the scribblings in bathroom stalls.

I find myself more engaged with the story in ways – trying to pick out the flow of the plot, for example. I am more aware of a book’s flaws, too, but I learn from them.

It’s not the most pleasant way to, say, watch a television show. Sometimes you just want to be entertained. That’s fine, but being new to writing fiction I feel I need to take every learning opportunity I can get.

Or, I did feel that way.

Until my critical eye turned itself upon my life.

My friend has moved away. This happens, and is to be expected. To be honest, I moved across the country last year and was gone for months before eventually returning to the area, but it didn’t feel this way.

This time, it hurts.

Without overburdening with details, I feel like our friendship is waning, and it’s all my fault. We get along great, and when we get together it’s nothing but good times. Still, I know he’s becoming distant, and I strongly suspect that it’s because of some things that I’ve done which, while not wrong, still drive a wedge between us.

By Gilles Barbier, source

Now that he’s gone, and there’s no real way to deal with it now that I’ve realized the problem. Really, there never was a way.

While he was here, we could hold onto the tenuous threads that bound our friendship. With him so far away, I fear it’s the end.

It hurts.

My inclination is to distance myself from the hurt, to cordon it off in a dark corner of my mind and never go there again.

No, my inner writer says.

Don’t turn away from this.

Embrace the pain. Savor the simple honesty of the emotional turbulence.

This is some good stuff. You’ll be glad you went through this later because you’ll be able to write richer, fuller, more genuine characters. Bask in the tremors of your soul, as these will breathe true life into the stories you wish to tell.

You’re going to feel it either way. Take the benefit while you may, though it troubles you further momentarily to face it.

Don’t waste this.

So I embrace it, for once not shoving aside, dismissing, calling it pointless, or bottling it up.

It hurts.

I hope something good comes of it.

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