Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine for a minute. Remember the movie The Dead Pool? There’s this scene where the characters have a discussion about opinions. One of them says the following:
“Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.”
I think it was Henry Callahan, was it?
Even if it wasn’t, no matter. My point is that everybody has an opinion. However, it has been brought to my attention that I am not allowed to have an opinion. To that, I say this:
Okay, so not really like that, but you get the point. My political post awhile back apparently spawned a shitstorm of activity in the brain of a family member that involved jumping to conclusions, loud and obnoxious opinion pushing, and juvenile name calling. Amazingly, I kept my cool against one of the biggest hotheads in my family. I’m proud of me, even if she doesn’t agree with my opinion and thinks that I’m some form of communist now. Don’t ask where that came from. I’m still not entirely sure.
The funny part of the whole thing? I really don’t care enough about the topics to have kept the “discussion” (read: personal attack) moving for as long as it did. The best part was the rest of my family jumping in for damage control. It didn’t work, but it entertained me nonetheless. Toward the end of the madness, I was told that I don’t know how to take criticism. That I shouldn’t dish it out if I can’t take it. Oh, and no crying over spilled milk. [Pauses and rereads last post.] O…kay. Makes sense.
If you’re insane.
So back to the criticism thing.
Let’s talk about criticism for a minute, shall we? There are two forms – constructive and deconstructive.
Constructive Criticism is that obnoxious thing that happens when someone shows or tells you a better way to do what you’re doing. It might sting, but ultimately it’s helpful.
Deconstructive Criticism? Not so much. That’s usually the harsh (and often unwarranted) “this sucks” and “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re an idiot” type of comment – unfounded, hurtful, and absolutely useless for anything other than heartache. Truth be told, it shouldn’t be called criticism at all. It should be called an attack.
As part of the rant, I was told that I don’t take criticism well. Okay. I’ll bite. Let’s say I don’t take criticism… Then I’m in the wrong business. When it comes to what I do (and all of you writer people out there will agree with me), I have some of the toughest critics available. I’ve had to develop thick skin.
OF THE CONSTRUCTIVE: I have editors. People who are paid to tear me apart. They are meant to be heartless and gut-busting. But they’re doing it for a good cause, and they’re doing it because we all need them to do it. I’d much rather have an editor rip me a new one and fix the problems than cast my work out without a bit of polishing. They help me become better at what I love.
I am also at the mercy of reviewers. Some of them are great – they clearly and concisely make a point and don’t feel the need to sling mud in the author’s general direction. Even if the review is low-rated, it can be helpful.
OF THE DECONSTRUCTIVE: Then there are the other reviewers who they aren’t always very nice. In fact, many of them are downright nasty. But I don’t let it get to me. It doesn’t do any good. What they say may or may not have an effect on whether someone buys my books or not, but if I were to listen to them, I’d be in a corner with my knees under my chin and sucking my thumb.
Oh, yeah… I also have a husband who is probably the toughest critic ever. If something is wrong, he’ll certainly tell me. If I need to know what’s wrong with something, all I have to do is go into the living room and start up a round of “Ask Rooster”… he’ll tell me every time. In great detail. Whether I ask or not. Most of the time he’s even helpful!
[On a side note: I get to pick on him because he married me knowing full well that I’m a crazy person.]
So really when it comes down to whether a person can handle criticism or not, it has a lot to do with the type of criticism. I can take Constructive Criticism all day long, but I won’t stand for a personal attack, particularly when it’s over a very obtusely constructed opinion and the actual attack has nothing at all to do with my point in the first place.
And now on to the sparkling ponies…
They have nothing at all to do with anything. It just seemed like a good way to do away with the heavy funk surrounding this post. I like ponies, and I like them even more when they sparkle. I think the sparkling is my subconscious drawing itself toward the inane, because I often do that.
I also happen to be a magnet for nutjobs. There are lots of them in my past, and probably loads more in my future. Some are crazier than others, too. But that’s a story for a different day.
Buy me coffee sometime and I’ll tell you.