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It is not the critic who counts...

Updated: May 16, 2022

I read this book called...

<< The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse- A book for creators >>

by: Michael Gungor

The writer is one half of the band GUNGOR.

They are a collective of musicians, mainly a husband and wife team that creates meaningful, existential, spiritual, and thoughtful music.

The author of this book is the husband character of this duo.

Michael Gungor.

He starts the book off saying that he is...

“A guy who creates things for a living. More specifically, I am a musician, so these things are most often made of frequencies and timbre, but I also dabble in words.”

I love this explanation.

Many of you dabble in music and words.

Some of you dabble in storytelling and movement.

Some of you dabble with paint and canvas.

Some of you dabble with numbers and charts.

Some of you dabble in teaching and leading.

Some of you dabble with business development and entrepreneurship.

Some of you dabble with caring for peoples health or minds.

Some of you feel like all you dabble in at the moment are auditions.

I often dabble in some of these as well.

There was a time where my dabbling in the performing arts was full time and all consuming.

At this point in my journey I dabble a little less than I once did in that area…

but these days I am dabbling more in written word and the creation of thoughts and ideas in relation to human relationships, experience, vision, and psyche.

But my heart is one of a creator.

Lets rewind for a moment


Freshman year of college.

BFA Musical Theatre Program

Tallahassee, Fl

Florida State University

18 year old Sarah Claire

Wide Eyed



Acting Class

The Kitchen (some of you just went there in your minds….the rest of you…just know it is a place where we made a great deal of creative discoveries, risks, and friendships.)

We all entered this room thinking that we were talented and that we were going to WOW each other with our acting skills.


We were stripped of our bull#@$! immediately.

We were challenged to do more than pretend to be happy/sad/angry…

We were challenged to be.

A phrase was said to us that I have never forgotten…

Acting is…

// living truthfully in imaginary circumstances //

This shattered our 18 year old acting worlds and we began to build on a foundation of honesty.

We were encouraged to bring OURSELVES to the work. The song. The scene. The choreography.

Where am I going with this? Stay with me…

What happens when you bring yourself to your work and you are rejected… put down…. looked over?

There is nothing more personal than courageously sharing your art, your soul, your creation.

It takes guts. It takes practice. It takes rehearsal.

You feel ready. Accomplished. Hopeful. Brave.

And in walks….

The Critic.

The teacher/casting director/ people behind the table/ parent/ friend/ partner/ the reviewer/

And they say “Thank you”

You know that “Thank you”

It doesn’t sound like


Its another type of “thank you”

and it stings.

Gungor writes:

// Creators are prone to listening too intently to the voice of the critic. We change ourselves and our art to please the critic so we can feel safe, feel like we are worth something.The critic is most often the voice of the preoccupied- a voice concerned with its own issues and its own ego. You are just a brief flicker on its radar screen. The voice of the critic is not sturdy enough to build your work on. It’s too fickle, too fleeting.//

The worst rejection that any of us face may not be from a teacher or casting director or boss...

It often comes from those closest to us. When we risk to be known by a loved one or partner and their reaction to our vulnerability is less than desirable. This may be the biggest sting of all.

Make sure that those who you are sharing your most intimate creativity... your love... are also in the arena.

Brene says "“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgement at those of us trying to dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you're criticizing from a place where you're not also putting yourself on the line, I'm not interested in your feedback.”- Daring Greatly

An important reminder as we create and risk to be known.

I want to say... you are worth it.

Your song is worth it.

Your dance is worth it.

Your book/ mural/ idea/ pie/ poem/ piece/ love

Your performance is worth it.

Because it comes from you.

If you are living truthfully in whatever circumstance that the art is coming from… it is worth it.

(For those in musical theatre)

Please understand that sometimes you are a brief flicker of 16 bars on that directors radar screen. And that is inconvenient but it is the reality of the business.

But as long as you lived those 16 bars truthfully then even if you receive the “thank you” …

It was worth it.

and maybe one day it will not be worth it and you will decide to create in a new way.

If it is honest... it will be worth it.

Our dearest Stephen Sondheim says it like this…

// Anything you do, let it come from you, then it will be new. Give us more to see. //

Even if you are a mom/teacher/ nurse/designer/leader/salesperson/minister… you are still creative.

Your words to your kids and patients is your creative imprint on the world.

The way you love your partner/family/friends is your creative expression.

The way you teach your students or interact with your co-workers/community is your creative voice.

//Art is like fruit, and every tree is known by its fruit.

Fruit reveals a lot about the tree from which it falls// - Michael Gungor

Final thoughts …

There is something powerful about removing the ego from the creative spark that the artist needs.

I always say that self consciousness and ego murder art.

I learned this in college and often in NYC where I was horribly self conscious and my ego was taking hits left and right.

It wasn’t until later in my career that I experienced the freedom that comes from the release of the need to be good and relaxed into the truth of who I am in the work and what I can bring to it.

Because I believed I was worth it and what I had to offer was worth it.

It is the same in all the stages of life.

This quote sent me over the edge to freedom..

///“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”///- Theodore Roosevelt

So I suppose I am urging us to…


live truthfully

ignore the critic

relax into the truth

dare greatly

and always

Take Care

Take Heart



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