Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tit For Tat

Taking criticism is often a hard thing. I know this, you know this and anyone who opens themselves up to have their work viewed knows this. I have thick skin, within reason, and I don’t usually fly off the handle when someone gives me tough love…if it is in fact, tough love.

I used to post my work on forums to make it better. Queries, first pages and so on, but now I don’t. Too many eyes come with too many opinions. Many of them are contradictory and some of them are down right insane. That’s the problem with opening yourself up to strangers, you never know their qualifications.

Just recently I forgot my rule and posted a bit of my work on a forum. I really don’t have a problem weeding through the nit-pickers or the flowery-critters and honing in on the true advice that will help me. And like I said, I have a thick skin, but what I’ll never have a thick skin about is someone who wants to tear apart my work because I gave them a less than glowing crit. Payback, so to speak.

I’m never mean-spirited with my feedback because it’s not helpful. I’ve had mean-spirited comments before and even though there was some constructive criticism hidden in there, I couldn’t see past my anger to the true meaning of their comments until much later.

In this situation, I think I was honest and asked the questions I had of the work. Not to be mean, but to give the author something to think about. Coming back and reviewing my post only to place snarky comments about what an agent will and won’t want to see, is ridiculous to me. If you’re not an agent, not even an agented author then you can’t say—with the emphatic certainty that this commenter had—what an agent will or won’t want to see. I felt like the comments were a blatant attempt to get back at me for the comment I left. Of course, I can’t prove this so really the point it moot.

Actually, my point is this; I’m not trying to bad mouth writers forums. They are awesome and have helped me in so many ways I can’t begin to count. But understand when you post on them that not all criticism will help you, not everybody has your best interest at heart and you may walk away more confused than when you started.

End Rant

Have any of you had similar experiences? How did you handle them?

8 comments:

Tere Kirkland said...

Me, I often just take the advice that feels right to me. If more than one person seems to have a problem with something, I'll look at it more critically. I tend not to get emotional over a less than constructive crit, especially since I get so emotional over the ones from people who've obviously put a lot of thought into their crit.

I've met a few crit partners this way, actually, but a forum, if you can stomach it, is a good place to search for potential crit buddies. Might take a little work, but what doesn't in this industry, right?

Great post, Karen!

Karen Denise said...

Hey Tere, I've met some awesome crit buddies from forums and by lurking, I've leaned loads. So I'm really all for them. While I mostly manage not to get emotional behind a overly negative crit, mean-spirtited gets me fired up. I'll be over it in a few minutes-lol. Thanks for the comment.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Karen, I can relate. I think we all can. I like to think of it as the difference between a tiger tearing you apart with his claws, and a surgeon with a very precise cut with a scalpel.

What we need in critiques are good surgeons, not tigers! (Especially tigers carrying a grudge.) I agree, forums are hit-or-miss. There's a lot of potential for hurt feelings. I have good experiences with blog-pal/writing buddies I trust, so that's the direction I've been steering lately. :) No offense to forums!

Amy

Mohamed Mughal said...

Ignore the venom; learn from the constructive feedback.

Hey, is that the Bushes in the cartoon? :)

Karen Denise said...

A.L., I love that analogy!

Mohamed, LOL. I'm not sure if that is the Bush clan in the cartoon, but I guess it could be-lol.

Vatche said...

Constructive criticism is always good, but if they are just trying to tear apart your work then don't listen to them.

I have faced many trolls in my life that always trashed my work. Heck! They even attack my blog at times, but I stay up beat because I'm an optimistic person and I know what their true intentions are.

Sure, I enjoy flowery comments now and again, but they never make me want to write better or more.

Those comments that are really well thought out, point out all your mistakes, and sometimes offer solutions, those are the comments one should appreciate and look out for. Those are your true readers.

A very entertaining read! Write on and read on!

Karen Denise said...

Thanks Vatche. I agree, those well thought out comments are gems. I'm glad you stay up beat when others attack. It's really a reflection on them and not you.

Mechelle Fogelsong said...

Last year I got to go to the PNWA writer's conference in Seattle. There I met a fellow YA writer. We exchanged emails, and over the course of a year, we did a fantastic editorial exchange. Her strength? Dialog. Mine? Description. So we really helped strengthen each other's weakest areas.

So at this year's PNWA conference, I thought, I should try to find more people to do these editorial exchanges. So far, most of them are too busy. Some have local critique groups they already belong to. One was willing, but her writing was fairly elementary. Another was very brusque with me about not editing too much, but as long as I kept it broad--just comment here and there about overall plot and pacing--well that would be fine.

I'm like, whoa. I must have hit the jackpot when I met my first critique partner.

A good critique partner is something to TREASURE.

FYI: If anyone's interested, I'm still open to new editorial partners! :) I'm not giving up, by golly!