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Pere Borrell del Caso: Escaping Criticism (1874)
"I hardly ever catch myself Deceiving myself anymore …"

Deceiving might be the primary skill underlying every Homemade everything. Nobody starts off competent to make very much of anything at home or elsewhere, and considerable experience might well be required to get any better at making something fit. Criticism seems the very last thing any budding maker needs. Each rather needs the opposite of that. To accomplish this, Deceiving will be required, with self deception heading the list of those targeted with this gift, but it's wise to stay out of eyeshot of well-intended neighbors and the highly skilled, for they can never do any budding maker any good and often inadvertently inflict wounds grievous enough to convince anyone not to continue attempting. Competence requires considerable attempting, best done some distance from criticism.

One learns from their mistakes but not if they cannot escape them.
An observer might always remember and never come to trust the hand that once produced such a failure, memorable in his mind but best left far behind anyone aspiring to achieve Homemade. Art schools and writing programs take a different focus, piling criticism upon their budding denizens, attempting to make them invulnerable to criticism. It's an open and honestly earnest approach that I garner has ruined many more than it's helped, for novices have thin skin and cannot deflect early criticism. Better if they hid away in some garret until they'd worked their way through their "early" period. There's no shortcut. Early works are crap and their author should not know it until later, after they've assimilated some skill as a result of successfully Deceiving themselves. They must catch themselves.

That first batch of jam should prove different and might even warrant a unique name attached. What was supposed to be jam might be rebranded Preserves or Confit or something. Names with a French lilt tend to work wonders. An attitude that things inevitably turn out the way they were supposed to turn out rather than as they were intended seems helpful. One need not surrender either ego or self to buy into a Zen-like acknowledgement that The Gods must have intervened this time. One learns to live with these differences and while they might jar a novice or anyone witnessing them for the first time, they quickly attach themselves to a mysterious sense that you've at least mastered trying if not, apparently, producing any perfect result. A body of work speaks volumes even if little of it even mumbles talent.

A mentor of mine once counseled me to first compare any piece of writing to a blank sheet of paper. He insisted that whatever crap might fill the page always deserved a generous A for effort, even if misguided. Its author had invested some non-refundable time in it and if only for that, deserved appreciation. Aside from whatever appeared on the page, its presence produced an engagement where two might relate as if they cared about each other's presence, as if both mattered. Our larder's half full of minor mistakes which I'm almost certain aren't deadly poisonous. I hardly ever catch myself Deceiving myself anymore, but then I'm well experienced in producing Homemade.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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