Constrictive Criticism

One of my secret delights of is learning that someone left a comment on one of my posts. Usually the commenter is someone I know, so they are  supportive and if they do criticize my stances or my writing it is usually quite gentle. My ego is  truly grateful for every response as it’s nice to know someone is reading these musings rather than just clicking on the site and then getting bored after the first sentence and  deciding to spend their internet time on an adult website. 

But my favorite type of comment is when someone trashes what I write or calls me a bunch of nasty names. This allows me to feel more important as I angered a bitter person who has no idea who I am. It’s the virtual version of accidentally cutting off a jerk on the road.

The harsh criticism is a nice humbling tool to remind you of your place in the universe. The anonymous nature of the internet allows people to be as insanely critical as can be imagined. The exact opposite forum is taking a writing class in an honest to goodness classroom. I remember sitting in a couple creative writing workshops where students’ writings were discussed in an open forum. No one wanted to step on anyone’s toes and so some of the worst stories you could ever imagine were complimented. “I really liked the way you used the word groovy when describing the protagonist’s shoes.” These classes are like fortune cookies in that there is never a negative message.

There is one exception I can think of, but it involved pre-internet anonymous messaging. I was taking a film class. We would screen our short films and everyone was to write on a scrap of paper what we thought of each student’s film. We would discuss each student’s movie aloud and then the auteur would have a bunch of ripped up pieces of paper to read at their own leisure. Usually, the comments were no sharper than the passive critiques made to the student’s face. But this one friend confided that he had  received a note that said,”You’re shit.” He was pissed off about it, but I found the note hilarious.

So much so that the next time it was that kid’s turn to share a movie I wrote two comments on two different sheets of paper. One was kind and supportive. The other one I wrote with my left hand and said, “You’re still shit. You waste our time with another movie I’ll kick your ass.”

The papers were passed forward. After we all discussed the merits of his movie, the kid went back to his seat and the next subject of criticism went to the front of the class. I watched him as he read through the papers. I began laughing as he looked around the entire classroom and then walked up to the teacher’s perch. He whispered something to the teacher and handed the teacher one of the notes. The teacher laughed as he read it and stopped everything to remind the class to take the criticism’s more seriously and not to insult your fellow student.

After class I told my friend I wrote that note as a joke. We never found out who wrote the first note. He is probably lurking on a message board as we speak.

One thought on “Constrictive Criticism

  1. I love this post and I must admit…I was the second gunman on the grassy knoll!lol

    Hey, getting criticism from a faceless, anonymous source is so 2000. Now they just openly rip you to pieces worse than the hord of sharks that ate all those seamen onboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

    Let’s just say, my publisher doesn’t have the greatest reputation. And these people have made it their goal in life to remind every author of that publisher just how lousy the publisher is. Doesn’t matter if you’re happy with them, they are going to tell you about it. Because how could you be happy with them at all? How could you just be happy having a book, but it potentially never selling like it should?

    And how exactly is a book supposed to sell anyway? Not every book makes the Best Seller list and the ones that do would be considered masters in their trade, wouldn’t you think? Therefore, out of the hundreds of best selling authors out there, maybe thousands, that still leaves MILLIONS no one has ever heard a peep about. And they are published by “real” publishers, since mine isn’t considered as such to them.

    Now I’ll give you, you won’t get rich or famous, more than likely, from going with the publisher I have used. But you may not get rich or famous either from going with a more traditional publisher as well. And honestly, to make a good living from writing, you have to be in the upper level of publishing to even think about living off the earnings.

    A good statement from the movie Hollywood Homocide says it all about not only the music industry, but the publishing industry as well. A company might pay a million dollars or more to publish 10-20 authors, but it only takes one to make it work. So of those 20 we’ll say, 19 will lose and never make it in the industry. How is that positive?

    My opinion, some people are way too hung up on themselves to look past themselves long enough to see that they are wrong. Or they although what they are saying makes sense, they aren’t helping the situation.

    But what do I know, I’m apparently shit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s