February 8, 2010KR BlogKR

The Choke-Your-Inner-Critic-with-Candy-Hearts Cure

Necco phased out the “Bite Me” message on their Sweethearts? Conversation Hearts due to “[consumer complaints] that it was a bit sexually suggestive.” It shouldn’t have surprised me to learn that the “Bite Me” hearts weren’t a cheeky concession to Valentine’s-Day-loathers, but a Twilight tie-in. This year’s tie-in is with Twitter; you have a 1-in-80 chance of finding a “Tweet Me” heart in your haul, and Necco notes that “For the first time in 145 years, Sweethearts? discarded all its previous phrases and asked the American public to tell us how they express their love.” Great, another writer out of a job.


Remember how some batches of candy hearts were bone-dry while others seemed oddly already-sucked? You could usually suss out chalkiness-levels pre-purchase by inspecting the intensity of color in the pink hearts, my least favorite flavor–though this year the flavors and texture got a major overhaul along with the phrases. I recall painstakingly sorting through the candies to choose the most fitting, or least misleading, messages for my classmates. I’d select two or three hearts to place in each envelope along with a handmade(!) valentine. The next day these would be delivered to expectant mailboxes–shoeboxes and oatmeal canisters transformed by gluesticks and glitter–on every single student’s desk. Perhaps to avoid hurt feelings and popularity contests, we were required to give everyone a valentine–even the booger-eaters and the bullies.


This month, I’d like to resuscitate (and redirect) an aspect of this tradition for myself and the other writers I know who harbor talented and tireless inner-critics. A friend’s lovely blog pointed me to this list, and while I’m straddling the “Long, Hard Slog” (Eep! Sorry, Concerned Consumer.) and “Revulsion and Dejection,” I am going to find a way to love those booger-eaters and bullies, too. My way involves crafting; if you would like to play along at home here is the plan:

This is the most special of the estimated one billion cards that will be sent this Valentine's Day

1) Staple a construction-paper heart to a lunchsack and tape it to your desk (those with access to superior supplies are encouraged to get carried away: glitter, stickers, feathers, and pompoms–these things make it harder to be mean).

2) Write your “shitty first draft” (or your ailing manuscript, unkempt collection–even your writer self) a mash note every day. No cheating! Some days, the best you can do might be, “Hey, it looks like you washed your sweatshirt recently,” but other days maybe, “The section you worked on today is not as incoherent as the one you wrote yesterday,” or, even, “Nice dialogue, champ!”

3) Let me know how it goes.


Rather than pickling or shooting the inner-critic, is it possible to kill him with candy-heart kindness? We’ll see. At month’s end, Ask Me (here’s hoping they haven’t already retired that suggestive and romantic and ambiguous candy heart).