Commentary: The Sting of Criticism
When you become a writer, expect criticism. In fact, be surprised when you do not receive any at all. Chances are there is someone in this big blue world who will not like your book, your article, your poem, your essay, it doesn’t matter. Criticism is inevitable. You cannot run from it and as a writer, you definitely can’t respond to it as much as you would like to. A recent example occurred when I was doing research on a favorite book of mine written by someone close to me. The reviewer made some pointed comments, disparaging the novel as well as the book cover. It was very unflattering of the author’s work.
Personally, I’ve critics tell me to my face the reasons why they didn’t like any of the books I wrote. At first those comments stung and I felt the need to defend my work. This stage of my writing career, I understand their comments are simply opinions in which they have the right to express them or post them online. The big mistake writers make is they treat these opinions as gospel – when in fact it’s only one reader’s view of your work, not the majority. Writers have to consider it’s one person’s voice of disapproval while others who have read the book or article may be in total support of what they do.
Criticism is a two edged sword, not only does it cut down your work, but it may also fall into being personal with the author as well. For example, if the aim is to criticize the work, then just focus on that, not the author’s personality, their online persona, their looks, none of that is necessary. Yet, critics will indeed take it that far with the author when there’s no need to. This is not to say writers do not have fragile egos and it’s permissible to type or say abusive words towards them. Writers would like to discuss what is on the printed or digital page. Anything outside of that boundary is not constructive for both parties.
Criticism is inevitable in a writer’s life. The way to overcome it and not let it sour your attitude if you’re a writer is to just simply take it as it has been mentioned earlier – an opinion. While you may never be a James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, rest assured in the beginning of their writing careers and even now, they have their share of critics who are never satisfied what they produce and would prefer someone else as their ideal author or writer. Every writer has a critic, every last one of them. As a writer, you should be so lucky. You have someone’s attention and that’s not so bad.
Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra