Our writing “…belongs to anyone that wants to read or criticize it.”
Stephen King - On Writing
It was bound to happen. I suppose it happens to all writers at some point. At first, when I saw it, I was angry and it really got my blood boiling. My heart started racing. What was it? The first overtly critical, harshly directed, publicly ridiculing of something I wrote.
My first response was to lash out, respond and retaliate in some way. But then, I remembered something Stephen King had writing in his book, On Writing.
King said that our first draft should be written with the door closed. It should be for us. We tell the story to ourselves. We are our first audience. When we rewrite it should be with the door open. We should write with our audience in mind as we rewrite. When we “get it right”, when we are happy with the story, with the final product, we share it with the world. When we “get it right”, it becomes fair game for praise or criticism.
There are two participants (so far) in this criticism. I checked their profiles to qualify them to be critical. I checked to see what they had written, if anything. What had they creatively produced? What I found surprised and saddened me. Nothing--they had not written anything. They are just consumers. I guess you would call them ‘trolls’. To quote a cliche “They don’t know art, but they know what they like”. I found nothing about them to believe they were qualified critics.
I thought more about what King had written and I decided to ask one of the critics that commented negatively why he didn't like what I had written. His response was to ask me why I cared what he thought. I replied that since he had taken the time to read and comment that I wanted to know why he didn't like what I had written. He has not responded.
What would my response be if they were bona fide critics? I've decided that any reader should be treated as if he were qualified to criticize. This has helped me think through, in a more thoughtful manner, my response to further criticisms. I’m sure they will come.
When I read another’s writing, I try to be as positive as possible. Unless the author has specifically asked me to comment or generally solicited comments about his or her writing, I stick to something positive. I try to encourage and comment on what the author has done well in his article or story.
I have had others comment about clarity or mention typos in my writing but as I said, this was the first attack on my efforts. I will be more open and more prepared for criticism in the future. If either of my two critics is reading this, I just want to say, “Thanks for all of your help!”
What has been your response to negative treatment or criticism to something you have written?
Photo by Martorell
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy reading my other writing site Hupages.