Last year I had a Viking funeral for my email list. I don’t know if it was technically a Viking funeral because our pyre was a portable fire pit and we put in our driveway, not a river. I also lit it with a bic lighter instead of an arrow that had been set aflame. I would have done the arrow thing, don’t doubt that for a second, but our HOA would have killed me if I started shooting flaming projectiles at makeshift funeral pyres in our neighborhood pool. (It’s right there in our home owner tenets next to what kind of siding you can have on your house.) I lit my email list on fire because it had become a sore spot in the Acuff house.

Discourse Criticism sticks. Compliments slide right off our backs like water off a puffin. (Ducks have had their day.) It’s a sticky substance, like great wads of gum that will bond you to the street if you’re not careful, preventing you from moving forward. It would be easy to say, “Screw the haters!” or “Ignore all criticism!” That’s the type of rhetoric that helps you build an Instagram account with motivational photos, but it’s not great advice. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a hater. Sometimes they are just someone with a different opinion. Discourse in our country died the day we decided that if I disagree with you it means I hate you. [Tweet "Discourse in our country died the day we decided that if I disagree with you it means I hate you."] And not all criticism is toxic. Some of it is actually good for you. Some feedback is extremely healthy. How do you tell the difference between the poisons and the vitamins?

When I write, I start by creating an “honest draft.” That means I suspend that part of myself that is desperately thinking, “Will people like this? Will people like me? Will they be mad or happy with this sentence?” I struggle with wanting everyone on the...

“I’d rather binge watch Netflix than see a book I wrote on a shelf in a store.” “I’d rather follow the plots of seven different television shows than cut the grand opening ribbon at a store I own.” “I’d rather play Candy Crush than get in shape.” “I’d rather stare at my phone until I get lost in a digital haze than build a relationship with the people I’m actually in the same room with.” No one ever says horrible things like this. No one ever makes such proclamations. At least not with our mouths. Most of us declare things like that with hands though. Most of us proclaim things like that with our calendars. Most of us shout things like that with our phones. Most of us would cringe if we were honest for 30 seconds about the things we donate our time to.

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