Terribly interesting post at Romancing the Blog yesterday. Nasty is the New Naughty. It reminded me of an incident a few years ago. A colleague who had a few published books under her belt, books with a major publisher, books that had been well received, came across some scathing comments about her work at a readers' discussion board. A few of these readers considered her latest release a 'wall banger' and bluntly explained why.
The author was crushed. I can understand this. I'd be hurt and disappointed too if I came across people trashing something I'd put my heart and soul into. What I didn't understand was why this author kept going back to that discussion board, time and again, to read additional incoming negative remarks. Why subject yourself to something you know hurts. She obssessed on these few readers opinions and, within a couple of weeks, she was so depressed that she considered never writing another book.
Her reaction may seem overdramatic as you read this, but I can understand how an extremely sensitve artist could be paralyzed by insecurity. These readers made her question her talent. Many artists grapple with insecurity daily. It's part of our make up. A good majority of us anyway. Putting yourself, your work, out there to begin with takes courage. Withstanding public criticism takes the heart of a lion. You absolutely MUST believe in yourself, your vision, your talent. Listen, learn, and grow from constructive criticism. Turn a deaf ear, or in this case, a blind eye, to those who rip apart your work based on personal preference. You can't please everyone.
Back to yesterday's Romancing the Blog post. Read the comments as well as the original post. Several people offered keen perspective. I won't repeat it here. In a nutshell, I believe readers are entitled to their opinion, of course. They should be able to discuss books honestly and openly, absolutely. (Although one would hope they would do so in a respectful manner. But I digress.) Point is, if you're the author they're dishing about and you can't take the heat... Stay out of their kitchen. (I know I would.)
I started to search for a witty, wise quote from a by-gone artist on criticism. Then I remembered something I read on another author's blog last year. Words of wisdom from her daughter, a young kid who'd just withstood ridicule from a few peers. Though clearly hurt, the young girl shrugged and said, "Opinions are like buttholes. Everybody has one." *g*