There Are No Ugly Babies

Some people like me. Some people don’t. You can never get everyone to like you, so why knock yourself out trying? — Claudette Colbert, great American actress.

You wrote something. You conceived your baby and brought it forth with all of your talent, skill, and passion, and some undefinable magic that compels you to write. There is your heart walking around on the page. 

You show your dear baby to a few people.  And some people do like it. “Aw, isn’t it lovely? Let me hold it…let me touch it.” In fact several, maybe even a lot of people say this. You beam, the proud parent.

Now, maybe a few offer some hints to spiff up the baby, and this is okay. It’s like having recommendations of cute clothes for the little one. But then along comes someone who says: “Well, look– The head is too big, and the eyes are crooked, and it is not the right color at all. I think you need to…” Not only do they find your baby ugly, they suggest all manner of ways to change your baby. We’re not talking nip and tuck. We’re talking major surgery to change the baby from black to white, and possibly from a boy to a girl.

You are crushed.

Is your baby ugly? No. The reality is that some people are going to like your work, and some people are not. Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. We– each one of us– sees things through the lens of our own experiences, vantage points, and prejudices. When a person wants to change our work so drastically, it is about something within that person and her own needs. It is nothing to do with us.

When this happens, here is what you do. You say, “Thank you for sharing. You could be right.” Such an answer honors the person’s right to her own opinion. Then turn away mentally and physically. Think no more of that person’s remarks than you would think of drinking poison, because that is what it is to your creativity.

The creative part of you is a tender reed. I remember years ago seeing the writer Marjorie Holmes deliver a talk. She was a vibrant, fiery pixie of a woman. She stamped her foot and said, “We writers are so tender! We can be soooo crushed!”

Take care of your inner creative child. Do this by accepting it. To love ultimately is to give approval. Approve of yourself and your writing ability right where you are. We grow by encouragement and acceptance. Accept your own opinion, thoughts, views of beauty and ugly and everything else that makes up life. Your view is the only one that matters. Believe in yourself. Be your own best friend, and tell yourself all the things a best friend would say. “Good job! You are a talented, creative person. You are unique. No one does things just like you do.” This, after all, is the eternal truth of every human being.

God, today I choose to take good care of my tender creative spirit. Thank You for all it offers me. I will listen for what my writer needs, and take care of myself. Amen.