GIVING GOOD CRITICISMS and HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISMS
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‘Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms,” ~George Eliot
I LOVE CRITICISMS! I always loved to wake up in the morning with my Yahoo inbox filled with Vorpal messages because Lit.Org members read my literary posts and commented on them. Call me impractical, but I don’t usually turn a window straight on to Lit.Org. I follow certain rituals. I open a site through my Yahoo inbox, like Christmas morning presents I open the messages one by one, patiently checking each item for the name of whoever commented.
Each word of praise props me up and spurs me on to write some more with equal beauty and quality. Every negative comment, however, registers in my mind and challenges me more to improve the piece being criticized, or to write some more with what I believe a better content to offer.
I love critics, and every bone in their heads (first quoted by Eugene O’Neill)! I also started to love giving criticisms, bad and good. I realized at how good critics of movies and plays could give straightforward, sometimes even offensive criticisms. I believe they help; and in literary criticism, an honest opinion, comment or review should always be appreciated as one would the creative writing.
Before writing down your review or opinion, think that what you shall do is an attempt to evaluate and understand the literature of an author. There are questions that one may ask when writing criticisms: What has the author attempted to do? How has he done it? What do I think of his effort? You must first find your approach to a literary work depending upon your point of emphasis. Should you be tackling the relationship between the work and the author? Should you be discussing the form, style or art? There are also matters that can be considered, those beyond the art form itself—like its relevance to society or man, lessons or the feelings it evolved. Study the work thoroughly and wholeheartedly and you may be able to judge it in the light of what you think the author has set out to accomplish. Start off by saying something good if you reckon your following words could not be avoided to be harsh. At the end, reaffirm your support and confidence in the person.
Now, there are still some more questions that a critic may base upon his comment. Like “What does the work say?” Sometimes there is more to a piece of writing than meets the eye. “What does it mean? Does the piece succeeded to impart to the reader its message, or does it really hide its meaning?” A literary work can be abstract and therefore requiring a subjective rather than an objective reaction (I believe that abstract must still have a subject—otherwise it is just a nonsense crap!) “How does it communicate and how well does it communicate? Most of all---is it worthwhile?” It is what most writers are emotional about their writing—whether it’s worthwhile or not. Critic does not necessarily present all the answers to all these questions; he simply uses these as guide to his thinking and then selects a much narrower topic on which to write.
“There are three reasons I comment. I comment when I am moved either by content or talent, I comment when I feel that my opposing view, or some constructive criticism might paint a clearer picture or help the writer and/or the reader, and I sometimes comment just because I like something which doesn’t meet the other two criteria. That is not to mean that I think that I have better ideas or even skills, but sometimes, another perspective can shed some light to both the reader and the writer, which will help both.
”We all need input. To live in a vacuum or on a mountaintop does not fulfill our purpose. We can all preach from the mountain, we can all ignore the world and just stay in our own little universes. But to have any impact on the world, on our fellow men, we have to come down from both. We don’t fulfill our purpose by remaining isolated. So my time at lit is one of the ways that I try to find the interaction that makes me better, that educates and enhances me, and I hope, helps to encourage others to keep on keepin’ on....No one wants the brick wall where their work is concerned. So, to comment (good or bad) on it, is to encourage, enlighten, or enhance that which is already planted, and sometimes just to go OH YEAH!” –Claire Robinson (Clairesbest), EXPOSED!
HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISMS
Consider criticism part of the process of submitting your work to Lit.Org. This will help you forget about the emotional reaction to being criticized. Put in your perspective that criticisms, all of them, are positive because they help you become better and do better. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him. Be glad that someone cared to read your post and commented on it, because it is an effort made!
You can learn more about how to improve in your writings through criticism than through many other channels, like what Penelope Allen once said in her Exposed! Interview by Clairesbest: “I think that is crap. What is important is to be observant and to think about things on more than one level. To consider the opinion of others. To be wide open in the receptive capacity. To swallow stars and spit out pearls.” Penelope considers the idea that the best and most enduring artists are those who have experienced pain and suffering is not true.
Also remember that being misunderstood is possible. It is inevitable that your intentions will be misconstrued. A criticism helps you prove yourself and regain the respect you deserve.
When someone criticizes your work, turn off your ego and (crank up) your objectivity. You may defend yourself but do not let it interfere with the learning opportunity. Remember that no matter how valid your self-defense, it comes off as a sign of insecurity, weakness and even unwillingness to perfect your craft. Apply your defense to understanding what your critic is telling you.
“Critics may not be agreeable friends, because they are not animals—they think, they ask, they are human and their feet are but made of clay and they touch ground,” well, this is an adage I invented, you may think it is funny but if you will only reflect on it, you will know that I am making sense.
-END OF NEWBIES SERIES-
*The recent WRITE-OFFS
*The Light Thread
*A Gypsy Poet-Artist's Villanelle
crystal face I kiss
tongue tastes like sweet cold rain
I fall into pond