Writing is living. What you do throughout your life you do because of what you value. You wouldn’t become a chef if you hated cooking. You wouldn’t become a veterinarian if you hated animals. Just as through living we reveal to ourselves what we value most, through writing the writer reveals what she values most. This is why it’s so hard for writers to take criticism. Through criticism, the writer feels that she’s under attack, that her life is in danger because her most cherished values (even if they’re not explicitly stated) are under fire.

What is the writer to do? She can’t ignore criticism, especially if it’s coming from someone who means well. The answer lies in the fact that writing and living are the same thing. To live means to defend your values (even if you can’t articulate them). To write means to defend your values (even if you’re writing badly). Sure, you became a chef because you love cooking, but your parents wish you had gone to law school. Your parents criticize your values and all the ideas you have about what gives your life meaning. Thus every sliced shallot and tablespoon of salt and every paragraph becomes a statement: “I’m making the right decision, you’re the one who’s wrong!”

And so you keep cooking. And so you keep writing.

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