By Cait Collins
Sometime being an artist can be very frustrating. The painter, actor, singer, or writer, pours his heart and soul into creating a masterpiece, and then is shot down by critics. While a painting may be appreciated by one viewer, another person may trash the colors and composition. One group applauds an actor’s portrayal of a character, and the second group considers the performance lackluster and boring. A writer submits his manuscript to an agent and receives a “don’t quit your day job” response. But agent B offers a representation contract, sells the work and the novel becomes a best seller.
Critics present one person’s opinion of the work. The harsh critique maybe difficult to accept, but it can be used as a learning tool. As writers, we must realize there is no rule that says we must accept every word of the review as gospel. That said, it is important to read the review, determine what parts are valid, and what portions may be rejected. This is the writer’s story, and he must be free to tell it. However one must keep an open mind so that he doesn’t miss truly constructive advice.
It is so easy to let the nay-sayers destroy our confidence and self-esteem. It’s equally easy for me to say don’t let them. But, don’t let them get to you. The writer must decide how he will respond to the review. There are choices. Become angry and hard headed. Quit. Develop a thick skin, move beyond the negative words, and pursue your goals. Above all, when called upon to review another artist’s work, respect the effort. Present the positive aspects of the piece first. Then discuss the weak areas. Never be a slash-and-burn critic. It is not productive for the artist and it could damage your reputation.