So it finally happened . . . I got my first bad review!
A part of me understands that this was inevitable. There's the old maxim about "You can't please all of the people all of the time." Then there are the stories about mega-successful artists facing rejection (see: Beatles, Dick Rowe). And finally, most importantly, it's part of the job! Writers get criticized. I know that.
But then there's another part of me. This part doesn't care about your maxims or your history lessons or your advice. This part hates logic. And this part takes criticism very, VERY personally.
I wasn't expecting this second reaction - this vitriol I now feel for my new critic. Maybe that was me just being naive. When you see professional artists (famous people) being criticized, it's easy to dismiss their reactions. After all, they're famous! Surely they must know that a majority of people find their art amazing!!! Why would they ever care about what some no-name critic has to say? If it were me, I wouldn't care about the critics!!!
But then it happens, and I DO care. The criticism may not be personal, but my writing (the target of this criticism) is incredibly personal. How can I not care?
I tried to go through the critique line by line and evaluate for myself if I think the criticism is legitimate. A bland main character? I happen to think Jeremy Cross is compelling. Over describes useless details? I thought I was putting you right in the action. Shifts the timeline back and forth for no material reason? IT'S ONLY THE KEY TO THE WHOLE DAMN STORY! Got about halfway through this one before I gave up. Seriously?!?
Finally I realized, it doesn't matter if I think his criticism is legitimate. I don't have to agree. It's enough to say he didn't like my book. And that's okay. I'll survive. I'll live to write another day. And maybe that's the real lesson.
It's not about ignoring your critics or hardening your skin so you don't care anymore. Instead, acknowledge your critics, weigh their words for yourself, and ultimately, keep doing what makes you happy