Saturday, July 05, 2014

Bundle of Nerves

...the relatively insecure writer is just a mass of raw nerve ends. Unfavorable criticism, to be of any use to him at all, must be couched in thoughtful language, temperate tones, and so phrased that he can use it to do better next time. If he is simply lashed, ridiculed, held up to scorn, it does him no good at all -- on the contrary it is likely to make it impossible for him to write for days on end.
I suggest that it never helps anyone to tell a mother that her baby is ugly.

--- Robert A. Heinlein in a letter to Lester Del Rey 04/15/57

This is true on a number of levels but at the same time, we writers have to develop that thick skin that makes it so that we can endure the  slings and arrows aimed at us when we write something out of our comfort zone. It would be so easy to simply sink our heads in the metaphorical sand when we are criticized, or rather that our writing is criticized so meanly that it becomes personal.

When I played in a local band, we got one such review and the group never really recovered from it, disbanding shortly afterwards despite all our desires to continue.

I've abandoned projects because someone has said something disparaging about them. Upon further examination it wasn't the seemingly harsh words but my own doubts about the projects themselves that caused my abandonment. So I think I'm okay hearing that as a creator my baby, my writing, may be not quite as up to snuff as I want it to be. But continual improvement is quite a good tonic in such cases. So I have a thick skin most days and I keep writing though I may not go back to a project for a time.

All that matters is the writing. That's how one gets better. Critique, criticism - harsh or otherwise - should be taken as cues to improve. Of course, this is my view. Your mileage may vary.

And it should. But if you see beauty where others see none, hang onto that image. It'll get you through.

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