Oh boy! I’m really doing this and it might get really personal for me. Bitterness might be the biggest destroyer of creativity and the most common trait among creative people who do not get the recognition they may deserve. It can strike even people who are successful in what ever endeavour they have decided upon, or been thrust into. Bitterness is an insidious part of being creative.

One of the main reasons is that creativity is linked to the personality trait of openess. If you love to hear new ideas or new ways of thinking, you probably have a great amount of openess in your personality make up. People who are on the other end of this scale will often bemoan you for not being part of the group’s way of thinking. I have personally heard very often “Why will you not just accept things the way that they are?” and anyone who has a creative streak in them may find it hard to just shut that trait off, even if it means that you will be misunderstood by the people around you. This can in combination with self-criticism, something that often young writers suffer from, lead to a lot of self-loathing and bitterness. You either pushing it inwards and it develops into self-loathing or you focus it outwards and it becomes bitterness.

Personally I have done both. I have had bouts of bitterness towards the world because no one would buy my screenplays even though I knew how brilliant they were, or at least thought they were. At one point I threatened to burn a screenplay (which I had stored on several harddrives, so that shows how well I was thinking at the time) because my girlfriend at the time said that it made me look like I hated Christians. Now granted I have since read the same screenplay and I definitely see her point, but I still thought that what I was writing was not an attack and I could not believe that she could not see that at the time.

I have also had sever fits of self-criticism, especially after the girlfriend mentioned in the paragraph above, ended our relationship. I then went to think of how much of a failure I was and that was probably not why I could not get anyone to buy my ideas. This lead again to me not sending out anything I wrote and that started a vicious cycle that lasted for a few years. Said girlfriend also said that she did not want to see me grow into a bitter man and this was why she was ending it, and that led me to become even more self-critical and bitter.

Now let me be clear I do not blame her at all and this is not an entry about how horrendous I was treated. In fact I would say that I may have brought that upon myself and I will prove this by linking this to one the oldest stories we have in the Western world, Cain and Abel.

Since I am not a Christian, I have always seen that story in the Bible as a weird story about how the world got evil people in it or how weapons of war first were fashioned made up by a bunch of Bronze Age fanatics, but I do not see as this anymore. As I have mentioned in my last entry I have become quite the fan of dr. Jordan B. Peterson, the Canadian psychologist, and he spent an entire lecture in his Bible series on this exact story. It is not a very big part of the Bible, but it is a very important part of it. It directly talks about sacrifice and what can happen to a person who’s sacrifice is not accepted by the world.

Cain and Abel are the first brothers in the world. Cain is a farmer and Abel is a herder of animals. They both make sacrifices to God and Abel’s sacrifice is found to be good and Cain’s is not. Cain then in a fit of rage kills Abel. Now what does this have to do with writing or creative works? Well, dr. Peterson explained very well in his lecture, that this story is not about God’s capricious nature; sometimes he likes a sacrfice and sometimes he does not, but God can be seen more as a stand-in for the culture or society in general.

Sometimes the stuff that we produce, or sacrifice, will not be accepted by the world, either because it was not the right thing to sacrifice (you wrote something completely beyond the understanding of the people reading it) or you did not sacrifice enough (you did not do a good enough job). It can also be the case that you can be living in a corrupt or bad system that does not reward sacrifices correctly, like the Soviet system or a fascist system that would clamp down on dissenting opinions.

It is therefore very important to examine what you have written, how you have gone about releasing it and if the system you are living in is the correct one. This however can of course lead to what I mentioned earlier as well, that you become so self-critical of what you write that you do not release anything, which is a horror of its own. Every writer and creative person, in fact every person in general is in danger of falling into the trap of bitterness, so it should be taken seriously when faced with the rejection from the world, but that bitterness is hard to deal with. I think that the only way to fight it, is to examine what you have written, take to heart whatever criticism that the world sends your way, but not so much that you become paralyzed, and just keep on working. The only way you can become better is by listening to those who may not agree with you.

Happy writing


JH Lillevik is a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. He writes screenplays, novels and short stories. He also works as a writing consultant for upcoming writers. His specialty is mythology, world building and psychology.

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