So, apparently I have a lot to learn. For starters, taking criticism. I have to admit, I have never been good at accepting a sharp critique. Anyone with me on that? I could be wrong, but I think you have to be a really strong person to be able to allow someone to give you an honest opinion about something you really care about, and to be able to sincerely accept it with an open mind. Sure it’s easy to receive judgement on something you could care less about, but when you have truly put your heart and soul into something, and someone doesn’t like it? Well, it hurts. It kind of feels like someone is bursting your bubble, or like someone decided to bring around a cloud to rain on your parade. Now I know how Barbra felt.
Today, I got some critiques back from my classmates in a Writing For Young Adults class at the college I attend online. I was anticipating the feedback all last weekend, because I knew that early this week I was going to get the verdict from my classmates. The class is set up to be a workshop environment where each week a new student submits a few chapters from the novel they’re writing, and your fellow classmates honestly critique it. Now, I probably set myself up for disaster because as some of the feedback started rolling in early Monday, I felt like nothing could bring me down. I had some positive feedback, where one classmate even compared my writing to Judy Blume (which totally made my life, because I basically love her, and read all of her books growing up.) I was feeling really confident, and even started fantasizing about the Pulitzer Prize that I might win one day. Okay, so that’s really awkward, but if I’m honest, I think I did actually wonder at one point what the requirement for a Pulitzer Prize was. Hello, delusional!
Later this afternoon I cheerfully signed on to the forum for the class to check if anymore feedback had come through on my novel, and BINGO, one new message. Hooray! I was extremely excited to receive the rest of my feedback, that would confirm my Pulitzer Prize writing future. However, much to my chagrin, it was not positive at all, it was downright, devastating. It was from a classmate, and she criticized everything about my piece. This b*tch went cray cray on my baby (my novel) and destroyed everything in its path, from my use of parenthesis, to the main character whom she called “dry.” P.S. That character was basically modeled after moi, so I was a little offended.
I spent the next hour on the phone with my mother going off about her. I used an array of tactics to cut her down the same way in which she had done to me, (e.g. saying things to the effect of, “Hasn’t she ever heard of a prologue before?! It’s like she’s never read a freaking book before! She must read effing Harry Potter!” <–Btdubs, no offense to anyone who like the Potter-inator…I was just angry when I said that, and JK Rowling is amaze.) So anyway, I basically just went off about it, until even I got sick of hearing myself talk.
After my rant was over, I thought about what I was really upset about. I was let down. I had a moment earlier in the week when I had received such positive responses that I felt like nothing could touch me. My ego was hurt because someone didn’t like my work, and because I had put my full effort into it, she told me her honest opinion, and maybe some of what she said had some truth to it. I retaliated by cutting her down to make myself feel better, but it didn’t make me feel better, it just made me feel worse.
It made me think of a quote that I once heard that says, “Whatever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.” The part about congratulating yourself too much, is apparently the part that I need to take note of in the future, and obviously something I need to work on.
Also, something to remember for the next time…
I don’t know if accepting criticism will ever get easier for me, but I do know, I am going to work on it. Apparently I haven’t exactly taken my own advice. To those of you who have read, “Stuff I’ve Realized Recently,” well, you all know what I’m talking about. Perhaps in some ways I really have stopped caring less about what people think since I’ve gotten older…However…
Maybe there are some things, no matter how old you are, what you proclaim to the world in a blog as gospel, or how much you say you don’t care what people think, are always going to sting and trigger something in that little place inside you, until you learn the right way to just Let. It. Go….