To the Skin that is Thick

Us writers are supposed to have thick skins. It’s a catch-22: we’re supposed to be intuitive, observant, and sensitive to the things around us. That’s what gives us the material to be witty, satirical, heartbreaking, or simply kickass at selling stuff. But at the same time, we’re supposed to be hard, resistant to the “slings and arrows” that become part of our job. We get a lot of crap as part of been a working writer, criticism that’s both constructive and merely bitchy. And we’re supposed to be able to take it.

So how do we resolve that?  The best I can figure, as unfortunate as it sounds, is that it only comes with time. After years of writing for highly varied (and highly critical) companies and clients, and years of merely surviving in corporate America, my natural inclinations for fight or flight are pretty dulled. While occasionally I still want to crumple down and cry after a particularly hard piece is met with disdain, or yell back in my best adolescent sneer, “well, you asked for this, stupidhead!” I can control it pretty well.  I guess it’s compartmentalizing. When it comes to reactions to work projects, I’m shiny steel. When it comes to creating work projects, or my own fiction work, I call upon all that malleable softness underneath, all that feeling and emotion. I’m trying to remember this as I hear rejection after rejection for my novel from agents. I picture myself like Colossus from the X-Men (geek alert), with an impenetrable exoskeleton I can call upon at will. It helps.

What about you? What ways do you deal with the essential catch-22 of professional writing?