Criticism is a gift!

Yes, Brené, but also, No.

Criticism, and its sometimes kinder, but occasionally passive-aggressive younger sibling, Feedback, can either be seen as an attack or an offering. Creatives need, and I mean NEED, to view any and all critique as a gift. I’m not talking about listening to the trolls who spew hate on social media. Those ‘people’ don’t count, but if someone takes the time to read or view your work and provides you with some insight into their experience, you have to be grateful even if you have to hear what they didn’t like about it.

While I really hate to see 1-star reviews (especially on my own work!), I really don’t think someone must be a writer before they can comment on a book, or a film maker before they can review a film. {People should NOT give books one-star reviews if a)the shipping was late, b)the cover was a little knocked around c)their cousin gifted them a copy and now they have two or d)the ‘writing on the copyright page’ was too small. Just saying…}

Reviews really help sell books but it helps if said reviews are well written and coherent and it really, really helps if the reviewer has read the book {or viewed the film – you’d be surprised…} Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, to quote the battle cry of Social Media, but not all opinions are equal, surely? If Old Mate down the road says my book is rubbish but it wins the Booker, well I’m not really going to worry about Old Mate, am I? Or if 50 women have read my book and 1 man says it’s “a weepy saga, set in Paris”…

After years of working as a commercial artist in various different guises, I am comfortable with criticism however when it comes to my fiction writing and related content marketing, I tend to deflect negative comments from men using variations on the theme of “well, no, you wouldn’t like my work because you’re a dude” and “my work is very girly, you have to be a woman to read it“. One of my male readers very gently and kindly took me to task on this today, suggesting that I stop apologising for my work, because that’s what I’m doing here, along with taking the easy road out by not accepting the feedback from male readers as having any value. My current work (mostly Strong Female Characters doing various mad things in Paris) would more naturally appeal to women, but armed with this kind man’s ‘feedback’ I have set myself a challenge; to finish writing about Mirra, the research assistant who unleashes a plague on Paris…

Feature Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash