It’s not hard to find an inspirational quotation any time you want one. Googling “inspirational quotes” returns almost 45 million options to click through. (I probably just added another one. Oops). Why? Because we need encouragement. We need advice. We need to know that we’re not alone, that other people have faced obstacles and returned to share their wisdom.
Are they all useful? No. Many are so vague as to be meaningless, and others are only useful at the right time. Take this one:
“Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been a statue erected to a critic.”
— Jean Sibelius
OK, first of all: sick burn, Jean Sibelius. High five, right here. This is an extremely encouraging bit of advice for anyone who’s feeling like they’re being kicked around by the critics, the “haters” (does that even mean anything anymore?), the Philistines who just can’t appreciate true art, dammit.
That said, if I ignored the critics all of the time, I’d never improve. If someone told me that a character’s motivation was unclear or that I had something hanging out of my nose and I just told them to shove off and go be statue-less somewhere else, I’d be stuck with a story that was less than it could be and… well, with something hanging out of my nose. Do we really need worse consequences than that?
I collect quotes- funny ones, inspirational ones, ones that tell me to go out to kick some ass and others that tell me to let go of the things that don’t really matter. In the right context, they all help me get through the day. Today is a day that requires getting through; I had a migraine yesterday, and though the pain is gone, the stupid lingers like some kind of brain-fog. (See?) I’ve had another friend agree to critique my book, and a complete stranger waiting to do the same, and it makes me more nervous than it should.
That’s right: just anticipating criticism makes me think I’m bound for failure. I’m going to go slap my skin with wet shoelaces until it gets a bit thicker; in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few pieces from my collection. Here’s hoping you find something to get you through the day, too.
“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft– then you can add all the genius you like.” —Phyllis A. Whitney
“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.” -Henry Van Dyke
“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write” -Unknown
“But he who dare not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” -Anne Bronte
“People say I don’t take criticism well, but I say, what the hell do they know?” Groucho Marx
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury
(Please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments!)