Tina Parker

Seal those ugly comments up in a jar

Date of Post: 
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This week I've been using my notebook to record the ugly comments that pop into my head:

-Your book cover sucks.
-No one will come to your reading.
-You'll never write again.
-Your daughters will hate you when they're older; you shouldn't use their names in your poems.

I usually have these negative lines bopping around in my head to some degree, but this week they have intensified. I just approved the final version of my poetry manuscript, which means it's now at the printer. There's no taking any of it back, and that is exactly why these ugly comments are rushing in like mad.

I combat these by calling on one of my favorite images/excerpts from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird:

"Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up. Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. . . Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away. . ."

This image/excerpt will be one of the main weapons in my arsenal to combat the negative voices that tend to rise. There is something very primal in all of us that tells us we're not doing enough, or we're not deserving. Those voices are going in a jar. I get to live like a writer for the next few months. I'm so excited about that opportunity that it makes me feel all hyped up on caffeine just thinking about it. It's time to send my "baby," my book of poems, into the world in hopes that the words will get into the hands of the readers who need them the most.

As for those ugly comments, I turned the volume all the way down and sealed that jar tight as it can go.