An Open Letter to My First Critic
Dear Mr. Critic,
You probably don’t remember me. Or maybe you do? Maybe. But, probably not. I’m writing you because, well, because I want to apologize. I guess I should start by re-introducing myself to you. I’m Kira, Kira Rockwell; I write plays. Does the name ring a bell yet? No? Oh–sure, yeah that’s okay. It’s been three years since the last time we encountered each others work. A lot has happened since then but three years ago you attend the first production of my first full length play. You attended the show and you wrote a review about the show. Your review was my first review. I never told you that. You may not have ever known, but now you do. You were my first critic. I know I wasn’t your first playwright to critique, oh no, I know you’ve critiqued LOTS of playwrights and their plays. Lots. Which is great, good for you, but I digress? You were my first so that makes you kind of special to me…kind of, don’t get too excited.
You began the review by saying, “The play has many telltale signs of a young writer’s first play.” It was the first sentence of my first review and it crushed me. It made me cry.
Granted, I did read your review the day after the production run had just ended. BAD IDEA. I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did. The next line read, “The storyline is dangerously close to cliché…” and I stopped there. Mid sentence, I was done. I didn’t want to hear anything else you had to say. I just lost it. I threw my phone across the bed and buried myself underneath my comforter and just cried. Like a real, snotty, sob. Again, I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted. I shouldn’t have read it then, but I did.
Days after reading those few sentences from the review you had written I remember feeling as if I was thrown into an expedited version of the Seven Stages of Grief. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Did I mention, I write plays? But my mind was in a tumultuous state of being. I was mad at you. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. All I had ever wanted from you was affirmation. All I ever wanted from you was validation. I wanted you to make me feel good. I wanted you to tell me I was good. I wanted you to tell me I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell the world I wasn’t an imposter. I needed you to tell me and the world that I was someone.
And this is where I want to say I’m sorry. I see now I wanted far too much from you.
Mr. Critic, I was a bit naïve then. I was in a sensitive place. I was exhausted… I was insecure. I am insecure. I am learning how to be more secure. Three years ago you came into my life like a wrecking ball. And three years later, I look back and I realized something. I never finished reading the review. I stopped at line two. And now, three years later, I realize, you actually said some really wonderful things…
Rockwell is “a dramatist who shows promise. Her dialogue is economical and natural, her characters are well drawn. It’s a sweet, familiar story told in a comfortable, engaging way.”
Three years ago, I was a bit na… I let me own insecurities get in the way of our relationship. I never valued you or what you had to say to me. I didn’t even give you a chance to speak or to be heard. It’s quite funny now to look back on the short time we had together. I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAS SO DRAMATIC! I’m sorry. Really. Good thing I didn’t have your number. Saved you from all the angry drunk texts at three A.M. you would have gotten. I mean you were still a jerk… com’n, of course it was my first play! I never denied it! But you were also pretty nice too. I guess what I am trying to say, in a weird, dramatic sort of way… did I mention I write plays–is thank you. I’m still writing plays. Better plays. I made it all the way to grad school. I hope you are still critiquing. I’m sure you are. Maybe one day, our work will cross paths again? And if they do, to be honest, I probably won’t read your review until three years after the production run has ended.