Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Accepting criticism

"Any writer who dismisses the negative but laps up the positive had better be ready for the negative reviews of her book which will come.
I have had books published. Some of them have won awards. Some of the ones that have won awards have had yuckity reviews. Some of those reviews I (try to) ignore because I don't value the opinion of the giver, BUT if someone says something positive and negative, how on earth could I justify believing the good but not the bad?? If I value someone's opinion I cannot only value it when it suits me. That doesn't mean I have to kow-tow to it but it does mean I should not dismiss it out of hand as this writer seemed to, and to dismiss it so disrespectfully. For a start, the critique opinion seeks to give you the best chance of publication, about which there are no certainties."
This morning Nicola Morgan's blog here has an interesting piece about accepting criticism even if it criticises something in your book, and commenting on the people who willfully ignore advice they don't like. I nodded my head as I read through it, because I know how difficult it can be to admit that I'm wrong and someone else is right when we're talking about my work. It took me time with a couple of critique groups to learn that there was usually a point to what critiquers were saying, even if they weren't always 100% right in their comments. (but often, they were 100% right!)

Some people don't accept any criticism, and can be quite sharp when refuting it. Which is a shame, because if someone has taken the time to read and think about a piece of work, then their comments should at least be considered honestly. Critiquers are readers, after all, and if they are puzzled by something, then you can be sure other readers will be. There's no point in saying 'oh but that's because of x' - the critiquer doesn't have the author's detailed knowledge of the story any  more than the average reader, and if he or she hasn't got it, then x hasn't come through on the page. If it hasn't,  then  an author should know what to do!

1 comment:

Susan Roebuck said...

It's human nature not to like criticism, but, as you say, in our business we have to learn from it and not ignore it. In a world where writers are ranting at their reviewers, this is timely advice. Thank you!