Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Heart of a Critic

This past weekend I was relaxing and watching Ratatouille (Read: Disney movie featuring rats, culinary feats and CHEESE!) when the food critic's (Anton Ego) monologue really hit home. Now of course he's talking about chefs and critic's reviews of them, but of course this totally relates to us writers and the agents and critics we face throughout our careers.

What do you think? Here's the monologue:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends...In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

I think Anton Ego is right. The world can be unkind to new talent--chefs, writers, actors, musicians, artists--we all face the same daunting task of trying to "make it." And yet, at the end of the day, no matter what anyone says, you know in your heart you've created something worthwhile, meaningful. You don't need a publishing contract or five-star review to designate your work's value.

Now, not everyone will become a great writer, but a great writer can come from anywhere. At the heart of fiction credentials don't matter. What matters is that you write, hone your craft and keep pursuing your dreams.


Stephanie said...

What a great post!!!! I agree 100%!!!!! A great writer can come from anywhere...doesn't matter what they've done in the past or what degree they hold...writing or none at all.

Very inspiring post!! :)

Steph Damore said...

Thanks Stephanie, I'm happy you agree. I know that I've always wanted to be a writer, but that's not the case for everyone. I also know that I'm a logical person, which is why I got my degree in professional and technical writing instead of creative writing. You don't need the degree to write an amazing story.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awwww, this is a happy-thoughts-and fairy-dust kind of post, Stephanie. I've seen Ratatouille a couple of times and never made that connection. I love it! :-)

Voidwalker said...

First off, this is one of my favorite animated films. I've watched it countless times with my four year old daughter. That quote is also very true and very relative to us writers. Thanks for posting this, especially the picture with the cheese...mmmmmmmm

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love messages that come from Disney films!

Hmmm... I wonder if I've been brainwashed. There's just something about Disney that makes me happy.

And I think the message is a good one. I like some advice from Aesop- "Please all and you will please none."

So true.

Steph Damore said...

Shannon--I believe in fairies!!! (Who doesn't love Peter Pan, right?)

Void--Yeah, it's one of my fav movies, too. I'm with STEPH T., Disney movie messages are awesome. I love how the movies now days have such strong moral and ethical messages.

Steph's also right: you can't please everyone, so please don't try!

J.J. Bennett said...
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J.J. Bennett said...

Wee...! Very nice and true too. I have a friend who says, "Everyone's a Critic" which is true as well as when you look at readers. Ah, what a great art form...