Silencing Your Inner Critic

This is a blog post I wrote for The Dragon’s Rocketship, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy group for authors, artists, readers, and all around fans located here:

On the web –  http://thedragonsrocketship.com

and

On Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1420653414841740/

 

Silencing Your Inner Critic
By S.J. Wolff

How many times have you looked at your work, rolled your eyes, sighed heavily and thought, “Oh boy, I suck at this”?

Too many. Right?

Don’t worry. You are not alone. We all have that little niggling, good-for-nothing voice pushing us down. No matter how skilled you are as an artist, a writer or overall creative soul this voice exists.

Why? We are not born into this world not believing in ourselves or our talents. We are not brought into this world with an awareness that we can fail. If we feared failure, would we stand up for the first time? Take those first hesitant steps forward learning to walk? No, we wouldn’t. We learn to walk because we have no one telling us that it is dangerous and we shouldn’t bother. We aren’t afraid. We know nothing of failure. This fear didn’t come from within. So, just where did this self-denigrating voice come from? It came from without. Someone somewhere in our life implanted this wicked little naysayer into our psyche where it then took root and has grown in the shadows ever since. While we’re looking over what we’ve created self-doubt opens the door for this shadow from our past to slink through. And boy does it wreak havoc when it does. It plays with our minds and tricks us into believing things that are not true. The longer we go with this voice calling to us from the darkness, the more we question our ability to create something of worth.

So, step one in conquering and dispelling the voice in the shadows is to shed some light on it.

We must identify the Voice so we can understand why it holds sway over us and take away its power.
The people around us, our relatives, friends, teachers all form our opinions of self-worth. They give us context for where we belong and what is valuable within us. Often times, without realizing it, they also give us baggage.

Some examples from my own life:

“You’re a slow learner.” (Teacher)

“You can’t accomplish without someone else’s help.” (Teacher)

“You talk just to hear yourself talk.” (Mother)

And perhaps the most damaging for my creative psyche, “Why do you waste so much time doodling with writing when you could be doing something more important? It’s a wonderful hobby but what are you going to do for real?” (Mother)

Now, I know you’ve all probably heard some semblance of that last one. Someone who told you that writing or your art is a great little hobby but not something that is “real”. But, all of these type of negative comments feed our wicked, false, and tricksy internal opportunist who is always looking for an opening to knock us down to size.

Think back. Who in your life could have triggered this voice in you? There may be one person or a few. It might have been while you were a child or while you were an adult. The only constant is that this voice is the voice of someone whose opinion mattered to you in some way.

Write down who they are and what they said to you. Stare at the words on the paper and understand, these are the words you have been wielding against yourself all the years forward from that moment in time when they were uttered by another person. These ARE NOT your words. Disown them. Disassociate with them. Separate them from who you are.

Now on to step two – Replace These Negative Words with New Positive Ones, either by you or by those who have encouraged you.

Where I had a teacher who said negative things that stuck with me, I remembered a teacher who was dearer to me than the first. At the time, her words were ignored in favor of the negative ones. I can’t tell you why. Perhaps it was because at home I was hearing the same negative type comments so this teachers comments rang “true” to me. Now, as an adult I realize there was only one person who’d tried to make a difference in my writing life. The others are the voices that have held me back from where I needed to be.

So, hers is the voice I replaced the others with.

Make a list of positive things people around you have said to you or about you. Replace the negatives with their voices.

Every time your internal critic tricks you into uttering, “I suck at this. Why do I even try,” stop it cold and replace it with, “A writer writes. It is who I am and who I’m meant to be. I learn from my mistakes and get better every day.”

Don’t fear your inner critic. Learn to control it. Self-doubt is natural. Critiquing one’s own work is necessary because without it we do not improve. But, there is a difference between critiquing your work and allowing it to move into self-flagellation. When the thoughts whispering through your mind are no longer constructive, when they tread on your talent with steel spiked boots leaving impressions that will only grow deeper, then it is time for the cycle to come to an end.

Butterflies and Books

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
~ Maya Angelou ~

Once More Into The Fray!

Hello Everyone!

I know. I know! I’ve been conspicuously absent from my blog for the past…well, never mind. No excuses. I’m back now and ready to have some blogging fun. 

I have spent the last few months wallowing. Yes, you understood that correctly. I’ve been wallowing in a kind of funky melancholy that had me wondering if I was ever going to come out the other side. 

Well, I did and I actually wrote something that might hold promise. If I pursue it I’m thinking it might be a Young Adult. I’ve decided to post a little tidbit here just to prove I did it.

So, here we go…

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      The sun set sinking ever downward until it gently kissed the distant horizon. Just before dipping below the surface of the water, the sky exploded into a brilliant blaze of rusty oranges and yellows. The last vibrant rays of summer shot across the ever darkening sky fighting against the inevitable extinguishing of the light only to be snuffed out moments later as darkness finally reigned.

      I picked up the last chair on the over-sized patio, overturned it and slid it into place on top of a stark white table.  Leaning forward, I crossed my arms over the underside of the chair. The night air washed over me with a soothing, gentle touch cooling the sunburn which had turned my cheeks a ruddy hue. With the breeze came the distant forlorn cries of a gull, not unfamiliar on the shores of Lake El’Ganah, yet the sound seemed lonely as it echoed over the water. An involuntary shiver coursed down my spine.  A sad, half smile touched my lips.

       I know exactly how he feels.

       I pushed myself up and brushed my hands together. The remnants of white sand, gritty between my palms, scratched along the callused surfaces. Absently, I rubbed my thumb against the worst of the hardened skin. The constant reminder of where I came from would assure no one would ever mistake me for an Ul’ran. Their precious hands would never bear the brunt of hard labor. In silent reflection, I spread the fingers of my right hand wide and stared at the various creases lining my palm. The rising moon lit the surface shadowing the valleys of the deepest folds. With my other hand, I touched the longest of them, running a finger from one end to the other. 

       Sometime ago, I’d heard of a traveling woman. I’d never met her but, from what other’s had said, she could look into the lines.  They told her things about you, your life, your love.  What would she have told me? A familiar pang of longing constricted my chest. Curling my fingers into a tight fist, I released a long, drawn out sigh then glanced around the patio to assure I was still alone. With a quick, self-conscious flurry, I dropped both hands to my sides and wiped them briskly against my tattered shirt. It didn’t matter. If such a person existed they would have nothing to tell me that I didn’t already know.

       You’re born. You serve. You breed. You die. It was the way of our kind. To Dream of anything different was futile. That is what comes from being born Nemh’ Erisant, Beyond the Wall.

A Better Blurb

Hello All!

I’ve been working the last couple of days to create a better blurb for my Amazon.com listing. I think I have finally managed to come up with something that works.

What do you think?

~~~~~

Throughout history we have been here. We were born of the union between the Watchers and the Daughters of Men. Our human hearts pump the blood of Angels through our veins yet, we are neither of one nor the other. Neither human nor Angel. We are the Alimentatori, descendants of the divine, and this is just the beginning…

In my two-hundred and sixty three years I have witnessed much, yet nothing could have prepared me for the devastating murder of my brother, Julian. While he lies in stasis awaiting The Release, his killer roams the Lazio region of Italy free to seek other victims. But, all is not right behind the veil of this ancient landscape. Its beauty hides a world of ancient secrets, hidden agendas and political intrigues. In order to extract my vengeance, I must first play a dangerous game according to another’s rules. Playing by the rules has never been my forte; toppling a game-board or two would suit me just fine! Regardless of the dangers that lie ahead, Retribution will be mine.

My name is Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel and I’m about to open Pandora’s Box. 

~~~~~

 

Retribution is mine…

I have a new blurb I’m thinking of putting on to my listing for Amazon. What do you all think?

Throughout history we’ve been here. Men and women whose genetic make-up is the stuff of Angels. Born of the union between the Watchers and the Daughters of Men my kind have given up the one thing that set us apart from the humans…our wings. Now hidden in plain sight, neither human nor Angel, we live secluded secret lives appearing as human as the man who sells you groceries or the woman who walks your dog.

I am no different. I am Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel. Like my people I have fought for my existence. When just a child, I survived a deadly attack which took the lives of my parents. Their loss drew my brother, Julian and I closer than we’d ever been. He cared for me, guided me through life, and wanted nothing more than to restore our family name. We were well on our way to fulfilling his dream when he was taken from me, murdered by a walking, talking urban legend on the night of his Ascension.

I was much too young to seek vengeance for my parents, but my brother’s killer won’t be so fortunate. A beast or no, they will die by my hand.

Though my world may never be right again, retribution is mine.

 

It Has Begun…

That’s right!
The Cyber Monday Countdown Sale has begun!!
Get the Kindle E-book version of The Dagger of Aita: Retribution for just .99 cents! But, that price won’t last long! So, hurry on over and pick it up before the price goes up!

Cyber Monday Countdown Sale

Cyber Monday Countdown Sale!

Monday morning bright and early you will be able to get The Dagger of Aita: Retribution Kindle Ebook download for the starting price of just .99 cents. But, that price won’t last long, so, don’t miss out!

I write like…

the-writer2

Today I came across a neat little text analyzer. You put in a portion of text and it compares it to well known authors, analyzes it and tells you who you most closely resemble in writing style, word choice, etc.

I decided to test my mettle against world famous authors and see where I landed. I went to me first book, Retribution, and pulled out the first two pages of text and ran it through the analyzer. It came out as Arthur C. Clarke. Not sure if it was just a random thing, I clicked on the analyze new text and put the same text back in two more times. Each time it came out Arthur Clarke. Well, I knew that my style of writing changed within the books (as I got more comfortable with the characters and world I’d created) so I decided to do an experiment. I took text from the middle of my book and the end of it as well. Ran each piece through the analyzer and repeated it three times just like I had with the beginning portion. Each portion…the middle and the end…came out with Neil Gaiman.

In the beginning I wrote like Arthur C. Clarke, which I am absolutely fine with. Nothing wrong with him! Then something changed. Maybe I relaxed into my writing or was so immersed into the world I’d created I let go. Whatever it was, my inner Neil Gaiman came out.

So, my take away from this….if you like Arthur C. Clarke and Neil Gaiman you’ll love my work! 😉

I write like Neil Gaiman. Proof: http://iwl.me/s/68c65cc

Excerpt from Retribution

Excerpt from Retribution:

I zeroed in on the only uniquely adorned individual at the table…our High King. Morbius of the House of Armaros, his black velvet robe intricately embroidered with gold, sat at the exact center of the curve. Like the others, he bore the symbol of his house prominently displayed on his hood.

The woman who’d escorted us in instructed me to take my place at the center of the room, directly in front of our King. Once I’d done as instructed, Morbius spoke.
“It is with great regret that we meet you today, Jacen of Samsaveel. Your brother was our brother. Your pain is ours.” His voice whispered from within the reaches of the hood, his tone seemed sympathetic yet there was a strange undefinable edge to it.
My eyes narrowed as I tried to make out the features of the man who ruled our people. “Thank you, your highness. I too wish we could have met under less dire circumstances.”
“It is our understanding you have questions about the death of your brother. Did your brother’s Second not explain the circumstances of Julian’s death sufficiently?” They knew of my questions already? How could they have known when I, myself, had been unsure of what I’d needed from them?
Returning my gaze to the featureless faces before me, I responded, the strength of my voice disguising the sudden anxiety I harbored. “Adrien explained well enough. I have a great understanding of how my brother died. Yet questions remain.”
“Then ask if you must. We will answer if we are able.”
A wave of uncertainty flowed through me, shaking me to my core. The time had come. It was now or never. Clenching my fists in front of me to calm my nerves, I straightened and spoke, “I’ve been told an urban legend killed my brother.” Not a single sound was uttered from anyone in the room. “I’ve been told that this creature walked into our seat of power and walked out with Julian. What I do not understand is how…” I paused to let the information sink in. My gaze traveled to each of the members in turn only to return to Morbius. “Am I to believe that this lone Cambiare managed to find her way passed the security gate, through the maze of hallways and into the party without so much as being noticed? Please…tell me…how that was possible. Was he not under the protection of this council?
The question hung in the air between us as time seemed to stand still. Then an eruption of indignant voices rose.
“How dare you…”
“You doubt our protection?”
“Who do you think…”
A fist slammed against the table and silence cut through the room. My gaze found the empty hood of our king. “You forget yourself, Jacen. You come here, question us…the Elders of your Kin…in a tone dripping with disrespect and expect what…to shame us?”
I knew it was a dangerous game I played, but I needed answers. Dipping my head, I choose my words carefully. “I meant no disrespect, Sire. I only meant to question the safety of the members of this council…and your own safety as well, my lord. If one of these creatures can spirit away a member of this council from beneath your very noses, then there has to be a breach in security somewhere. Someone helped them and I want to know who.”
My declaration was met with a rumble of whispered comments. When Morbius held up his hand all discussion silenced. “We cannot tell you who betrayed us as we do not know.” He sat back, crossing his hands over his middle. “When we locate the person responsible, you will be informed. For now, you need only retrieve your brother and return home.”
The muscle in my jaw worked as I replaced bitter sorrow with thoughts of vengeance. “I claim my right of Retribution delle Parentele. I’m not leaving Italy until I do so with the beast’s head as my trophy.”
My statement was met with an uncomfortable silence. I swallowed but refused to look away…to do so would be to admit defeat.
When Morbius finally stirred in his seat his voice hissed out from the darkness of his hood, obviously angered by my statement. “You are not sensible like your brother.”
I remained steadfast in my resolve. “No, Sire. I am not.”

Anne Rice and Me

What a crazy wonderful night!

My daughter and I arrived early for an Anne Rice and Christopher Rice signing on the evening of October 17th.

Ashlea&Me

We got seats in the center third row, right behind the reserved seats. We had a great view of the stage.

AnneRice1

They were recording the interview for public radio which was fun to listen in on. Then they opened things up to a Q & A. Afterwards we got in line for the actual signing.

WaitingforAnne

I’d made the determination that I would present my book The Dagger of Aita: Retribution to Anne Rice as a gift. She had been a major influence and inspiration to me ever since I’d read Interview with the Vampire when I was a teen. She wrote monsters in a way I’d never experienced before and she was a woman who’d broken the glass ceiling of fantasy writing (along with Anne McCaffrey). It was a revelation to a young would-be writer.

I figured if she couldn’t accept it or chose not to, I would have her sign it just for fun.

presentingBook

Too my surprise, she graciously accepted my gift. I told her I had signed it but had not written a personal note in it as I was not sure she would accept it. She smiled and handed the book back to me then said, “Write something in it.”

I was stunned. Call it crazy or insecure or whatever. The part of me that believed she might actually accept it also conceded she’d probably give it away, maybe to a staffer or Goodwill or something. It never occurred to me she’d want me to personalize the book (hence the reason I hadn’t written a personal note in the book). But, she’d asked me to personalize it. 

SigningforAnne

So, here I am at the Anne Rice book signing, writing a personal note in MY book for her!

As it is now personalized, I hope Retribution will grace the shelves of her home along with her other beloved books. Though I hope she reads it, I don’t expect that she will. She said in her interview that she likes to read but has very little time to do so. I accept this as part of what being Anne Rice is. If she does manage to squeak out time and chooses to read my book, I hope she finds as much enjoyment in those hours as she has given me over the years with each of her books.

I’m grateful to be able to give something of myself to her, just as she has done for me for many, many years. Her gracious acceptance and kindness meant the world to me. It’s more than I ever could have hoped for. Whether or not my little book is a success or an utter failure, I will have this night, this moment, to look back on…and remember.

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

Are you ready for a read that will transport you to a world where the Alimentatori and Cambiare walk amongst humans? Don’t know what the Aliments and Cambiare are? Then perhaps you should find out.  Consider picking up Book one in The Dagger of Aita series.

~ The Alimentatori ~

An ancient race of beings, fathered by The Grigori.
Though birthed by the Daughters of Men they are anything but human.

~ Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel ~

When a hedonistic Aliment who cares nothing for the traditions of the Alimentatori receives word that his beloved older brother has been murdered Retribution is what he seeks.

~ The Cambiare ~

Mythological creatures? Urban legend? Cold-blooded killers?
A near extinct race whose mere existence threatens everything Jace holds true.

~ Casa Sede di Alimentazione ~

High atop a cliff overlooking Lake Bracciano, the Sede’s pristine exterior hides ancient secrets, hidden agendas and political intrigues. Trust is non-existent and the truth is buried deeply within.

~ A Hidden Threat ~

Seemingly at odds with everyone around him,
Jace suspects his brother’s killer is not his only enemy.

On his quest for Retribution Jace finds
Enemies where he expects to find allies
And allies where enemies should lie.