As I was watching an episode of the TV show "Castle" (a mostly cheesy crime show where a fiction writer (portrayed the poor man's Jason Bateman) is assigned as a police consultant), I had a revelation. It was sparked by a scene where the lady cop was busting in on a suspect, wearing her bulletproof vest that read "POLICE". Castle (the writer) followed, wearing a bulletproof vest that read "WRITER" in white letters. It made me laugh out loud.
Then, later, thinking about yet another contest that I didn't win, I thought about how another name for a bulletproof vest is a flak jacket, and that flak has another meaning as well. We writers really do need flak jackets--in order to protect our writer-ego from being murdered by flak: criticism, rejection, and even self-doubt.
Now the flak jacket is not intended to prevent one from being wounded--only killed (or else it would be a flak bodysuit). So, in the same way, our writer's flak jacket shouldn't keep us from hearing criticism or rejection (thus allowing us to hopefully grow and improve from that feedback), but it should keep us from falling into despair due to criticism or failure, and declaring our writer-self D.O.A.
What, you may ask, constitutes the protective element of our writer's flak jacket? I'd say the encouragement of friends, family, or your writing community (or all of the above, if you're blessed enough to get that!). Also, the fire deep in your soul that keeps pushing you to continue to write. And the quiet, whispery voice that now and again says, "This is brilliant!" right before your brash self-editor comes in and makes ugly red marks all over what you've created. These comprise the metal that protects our writer's heart.
So, fellow writers--suit up with me in your own personal "WRITER" flak jacket, and boldly kick the door in to the dark and scary world of sharing your work! I've got your back.