Saturday, April 13, 2013

Critical observations

I hate criticism: it is just too critical for my tastes. You spend a great deal of time making something, only to have it torn apart before your very eyes. You gather up the pieces, and try to stick them back together with an abundance of adhesive. But it is never the same again...

People obsess over what they don't like, sometimes entirely neglecting to mention what they do. It is hard for me to take such criticism seriously. In my entire life, there have been very few things I can honestly say have no redeeming value. I have never been able to say this about a movie, much less a work of literature.

Now, I am not trying to justify bad writing and poor composition. If there is a problem, then it should be mentioned.... once you focus on the things the writer did right. After all, a critique expounds on the qualities of a work, not on all the gaps in between.

And the positive aspects should always come first. If I tell someone they have fly-away hair, a greasy complexion, spindly arms and knobby knees; they will not really want to hear that I think they have a great personality. And when the negative rears its ugly head, it should never be in the form of an insult. Human beings have fragile egos which, just like hearts, must be handled with care.

You should appreciate people for who they are; and their work deserves the same. Once this is done, then it is up to the writer to be able to handle the criticism. Everyone wants to have that rough draft which is perfect: the words drip like honey from the page; there are no grammatical errors; cats and dogs live together in peace and harmony... But that is the goal, not the starting point.

And as for the hypercritical, a writer must develop a tough skin. These things will never change, so you must change your reactions to them. Consider the criticism: is it correct? Is this a real problem or a matter of taste? If two or more people, who do not know each other, mention the same thing; then you should look into it. For the goal is to reach the destination... the cats and dogs will thank you.


  1. How I agree - we are so quick to criticise, and not just writing. Sometimes it seems that grumbling keeps us going. But I have a different POV - celebrate the great things (the smell of hot coffee, my grandchildren giggling) and the world feels a better place. Then I try to take that into my writing.

    1. That's a good attitude: appreciate what you have and everything else will fall into place.