Monday, September 8, 2008

Handling Criticism

I am not exactly sure where to begin here because I have honestly rarely been faced with criticism. I guess I have been somewhat lucky in that I have usually faced a zero-sum game: people either really liked my work or basically did not; I cannot think of any time at which my work has been "panned," with the exception of one or two inferior writers who were obviously lashing-out (either from jealousy or simple pettiness). In the latter cases, I took whatever nugget of criticism actually existed and ignored the rest; for the most part, I ignored it. But overall, I do not guess anything I have done has ever just been trashed - so I am not sure how much I can add to this discussion.

Having said that, I am an Internet guy and I have most certainly been flamed and insulted online. Maybe dealing with the blatant ugliness found online has helped thicken my skin a bit, but in reading an article in the latest Writer's Digest, I found it hard to relate to the writer, who claimed to have been devastated by something a local politician said about her. Even moreso when she qualified it by noting he was retaliating against her because her article was critical of him.

I mean, is it just me or would you take such an obvious attack seriously?

I would take it seriously enough to write a scathing retort as my next piece, or perhaps on my blog, but that is really about it. I might lose a little sleep from sheer anger, as I pieced-together my verbose verbal lashing, but I certainly would not "slink about town," worried that everyone I knew (or that knew me) had read the statement and was "snickering behind my back."

Of course I feel a little depression whenever a peer gives me constructive criticism, whether or not I agree with it. I have received criticism I completely agreed with and sometimes it crushed me, but most of the time, it really enlightened me! It was like discovering someone else had precisely the tool you were missing to finish a job on which you had been struggling for a long time.

I have also received criticism with which I completely disagreed. Most of the times, I tried to explain to the critic why I disagreed with their suggestion(s), only to find (many, many times) that they were more defensive of their criticism than they were interested in hearing my reasoning! Either way, in these cases, I knew my aim was true and dismissed the suggestion.

I take what I do very seriously and I am certain that, were someone to tear my work apart with good reason, I would feel the mortification others have experienced. But not everything that flows from these fingertips is golden and generally, I have no problem admitting I made a mistake, so good criticism doesn't bother me a bit.

How do you handle criticism?

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment