Saturday, March 9

I Hate Your Writing, I Don't Hate You

There are three main types of criticism.

The first is technical. Grammar, typos, sentence structure, word use. When someone points these things out to you, at its core...it's irritating. Of course, it's helpful but it's also frustrating because it can feel like someone is nit-picking all your mistakes. Let's be honest, those things pop out on the page.

The second is content. If the reader is confused or disinterested, it's disheartening because something you're passionate about isn't connecting with your reader. Sometimes it's to do with the reader's personal preference but it is just as often a shortcoming in your writing. Either way, it sucks.

The third is also to do with content - when a reader disagrees with or dislikes your writing. Now this one is the worst because it does feel like a personal attack. When this happens to me, my face heats up and I feel sick in my stomach and I'm caught between feeling defensive and apologetic. In this situation, it might be tempting to cast off the critic as cruel or curl up into a ball and cry but instead it's better to remember that we are all opinionated, we do not necessarily like the same things and we do not always agree with each other.

It's important to differentiate not liking something someone creates and not liking the person who created it. You can admire the way an actor portrays a role but that doesn't mean that you would want to socialise with them in real life. The same goes for disliking a book you read. The author might be a wonderful individual but that doesn't mean that you will like everything or anything that they write.

Most of the time, people do not dislike things out of spite. They don't go out of their way not to like things. It just happens. It's not intentional.

For example, I read a book by Neil Gaiman and I didn't like it, but so many of my friends adored his work and he seems like a brilliant guy, so I read another of his books and...I didn't like it either. I don't exactly hide the fact that I can't contribute when people around me are squeeing over his writing, so now I'm the girl who hates Neil Gaiman. Judge me, label me. I'm awful.

Do you know how awkward it is when you meet a lovely author and then read their book and don't like it? It's a lot worse now thanks to social networking.

@KeriPayton Hope you enjoy my book! It was great meeting you. ♥

@Author Uhh...

I am inherently evil. There is no other explanation.

Off the topic of writing for a moment, I didn't like the movie Finding Nemo. In all fairness I've only seen it once years ago but when I've told people this fact, a couple of times I have been met with a response like, "So you hate Ellen DeGeneres, then?"

Pardon? How do you respond to something like tha- what? No.

This throws me and I wonder how being uninterested in a film turns into a case of hating an individual...but them I remember just how many people have told me that if they ever met Stephenie Meyer, that they would punch her in the face or cause her similar bodily harm.

Why? Why would you do that?

It's understandable to dislike Twilight. You can poke fun at it and argue all the cases against it - but I can guarantee that Meyer did not go out of her way to consciously write something that would offend all your senses. So I think some people need to calm down...just a tad.

In conclusion, when someone comments on your writing, remember that you're probably just as critical as they are. Now, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't care what anyone thinks or that you should tread lightly and never be opinionated or passionate about anything...because that's not natural - and I'm not going to be living up to those standards any time soon. Just don't make criticism about your writing into a personal attack or let it eat you up inside like a cannibalistic doughnut. 'Cause that never ends well.

2 comments:

Fabienne said...

I couln't agree more. Being a teacher (kind of)I try to teach that to my children all the time.

Emma Michaels said...

Cannibalistic doughnut!
I agree completely. Well said! <3