I have not published my first novel yet (coming soon!). So the idea that I would presume to speak on this topic might offend some fellow writers. But I mean no offense. I know about criticism. Trust me. It's not just limited to writers.
I recently received some feedback on something pertaining to my debut novel Her Protector and it got me to thinking. Not the actual criticism per se, but the motivation behind it. We all know that how we experience art is completely subjective. I'm talking aesthetics here. In other words, does this please me? Whether it's a painting, or a song, or a ballerina, or a haiku. Does it make me feel a certain way?
Critics come in and they rip shit apart. And I don't have a problem with that. A critic might say for example, this person has poor technique, poor grammar, isn't properly turned out, is pitchy, or doesn't have shit to say. Fine. Hate it. Love it. But why do you hate it? Why do you love it? How does that art you just experienced make you feel? I'm suggesting that you make THAT the foundation of your criticism. Not the presupposition that you started with when you first saw the cover of the book, or heard the first few notes of the melody, or saw the first bold colors splashed across the canvas. There is a heart beating behind the art. Look for the heart. Use that as the foundation of your criticism. Use your heart just the same as the artists do when they share with you what is in theirs. Using your heart doesn't mean go easy or hold back either. I'm simply suggesting that one's emotional response should be considered in the process.
I'll put myself in this context. The truth is that not everybody loves me. Not everybody thinks my baby is cute. Not everybody thinks my story line is new. Not everybody thinks I'm special. Nor is it anybody's job to validate what I do. We have to validate ourselves. Stay true to our heart. And do our best to connect with those whose heart are open to us. So that when they give their criticism we know we can trust it. Because their motivation comes from an open heart. Unencumbered by baggage brimming with their own past disappointments.
With all that said we all know that there are those out there who exist for the shade. It''s a passion. It's an art form. It's. Their. Job. And to those baggage toting shadeters whose hearts are closed? All I can say is that it's okay. No really, it's okay. I doubt any of us can say that we haven't ever operated from that space. It's easy to do, isn't it? Much easier than having that open heart and working from there. And therefore it's easily discernible from real criticism.
How are giving criticism these days? From the cover of swaying palms, or from your heart?
Did I say too much? I would love to hear from you.