Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Jenkins, Your Work is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

Criticism is a thing. I went to art school for 4  years, so believe me, I know all about criticism. Project critiquing day was a dreaded day for me in every art class I ever attended. Not because my work was bad, but because I just couldn't stomach negative criticism. I didn't know how to process someone not loving my work and always took it as an attack. It would put me in a bad mood and make my doubt myself as an artist.

This resulted in me hovering over my sketch book like dragon on a mountain of gold. I didn't let anyone near it. And if I did happen to show someone my work, I pretty much went into panic mode until they gave the obligatory, "huh, that's pretty good." and went about their business.

"Hey! This is a writing blog! Not an art school blog!"

Yes, I know. But, the same principle applies. For the longest time I wouldn't let anyone read what I wrote because what if, *gasp*, they don't like it!? And that was just friends-- people who will be nice regardless of how much it sucks. Let's not even talk about editors.

Let's be honest; if people don't like my book I'll be sad. Nobody goes through the effort of writing a book in hopes that it will be okay at best. Everyone wants approval and everyone wants their work to be liked. It's not rocket science. So far, I've been lucky. Everyone who has read Run has enjoyed it. But I know the bad review is coming. It's not a matter of if, but when. And my reaction will depend largely on what kind of negative review I get. 

I am stubborn, by nature, and have a hard time thinking beyond "my way or the highway" when it comes to things I write or draw. My first reaction to someone saying, "Well I'd change X." is to tell them to write it their way if they're so smart. This is not a good reaction to have. I need to embrace criticism and work with it. This journey into authordom is teaching me how to do that...while my old habits kick and scream all the way. 

Let's say one of my editors or beta readers contact me and say, "You need to work on X, Y, and Z." Or they tell me that a certain part didn't make sense, or that a character was just not jiving. Well, that's a bummer to me, but as long as they provide valid reasoning for their criticism, we can work on it. This is good criticism. This is not me being attacked, or hated on. This is people wanting to help me make my book better. This is the type of criticism I'm learning to take and run with, because it's useful.

However, if one of them contacts me and says, "Robots suck, you suck, and your cat sucks." Well, then we have an issue. First of all, leave my cat out of this.
Seriously, how could anyone not love this guy?

Second, if someone can't back up their trash talk, then I need to ignore it. This kind of criticism was what got me into my one and only shouting match with an art instructor back at IU. I won't go into details, but calling someone's self portrait an "Oompa-Loompa in JNCOs" is not a good way to keep students in your class.

My point is, people will be dicks about my work. I need to prepare for it and ignore it. They don't want to help me. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. As for the other stuff, I'll take it and learn from it. And maybe get some serious XP.

No comments:

Post a Comment