Commentary: The Sting of Criticism
When you begin to pursue a writing career, expect criticism. In fact, be surprised when you do not receive any at all. Chances are there is someone in this world who will care less about 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. A recent example occurred when I researched a favorite book of mine written by an associate. The reviewer made pointed comments, disparaging the novel as well as the book cover. It was very unflattering of the author’s work.
In the past, I had critics tell me to my face the reasons why they didn’t like any of the books I had written. Immediately, I felt the stinging impact of those comments. My response to this critic was to defend my work. I understand their comments are simply opinions which they have the right to express personally or post online. The big mistake writers make is that they treat these opinions as gospel – when in fact it’s only one reader’s view of your work. Writers have to consider it’s one person’s voice of disapproval while a larger readership 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 shred your work, but it may also fall into a personal critique as well. For example, if the aim is to criticize the work, then the critic should just focus on that, not the author’s personality, their online persona, or their looks. Yet, critics will indeed take it that far with the author when there’s no need. Conversely, this is not to say writers do not have fragile egos. What they could most appreciate is simply discussing what is on the printed or digital page. Anything outside of that boundary is not constructive for either party.
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 become a James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, rest assured in the beginning of their writing careers and even now, they had their share of critics who were never satisfied with what they produced and preferred 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