Years ago, in a Twitter exchange, writer Kevin R Hill commented that many great books might never see light of day because the authors were not tough enough to stand against years of rejections. How true, I replied, and the idea of “writer’s skin” came up. We should coin a phrase, Kevin said – writer’s skin, the thick layer that protects tender hearts.
If only one could buy writer’s skin ready-made, I said, like a magical cloak or suit of armor, instead of having to grow it from the inside out. Yes, if only. But as it turns out we all must cultivate our own thick layer of protection.
Today, like that day, I happen to be suffering from some of the soul-wounding that all writers must endure. Although knowing that this ritual scarring is an unavoidable test of author-hood helps you prepare for the battle, it does nothing at all to stop or even slow the blood-letting. Kevin’s tweet reminded me then and now that this uncomfortable truth was universal – that I was not alone. And neither are you.
To help you get a good start, here are some tips for growing a healthy, hardy sheath of writer’s skin:
Start with a Rich Growth Medium that has been fortified with equal measures of patience, persistence, and perseverance, and is resistant to infiltrations of noxious weeds like self-doubt, jaded perspective and bitterness.
Sow Only the Highest Quality Seeds by selecting the most unique and well-formed ideas for cultivation. This will help to ensure that your writer’s skin is fashioned from the strongest creative fibers.
Water Frequently from the deepest wells of knowledge and most trusted fountains of inspiration. Avoid shallow, stagnant ponds and shark infested pools.
Fertilize As Needed with only the highest quality, well-credentialed experience you can find. Choose carefully – there are a lot of low budget brands out there that promise plenty but deliver little results.
Be sure to harvest your writer’s skin before the beginning of the submission season, and wear it whenever you venture out. This should help to shield you from the harsher elements.
Remember, writer’s skin is susceptible to normal wear and tear and that frequent use will erode its protective qualities. Therefore, it must be replaced periodically. While writer’s skin tends not to flourish in intemperate climates, it is a self-sustaining renewable resource and can be grown almost anywhere and at any time by constructing a green-house like environment that recreates the favorable conditions mentioned above.