I mean, there's a difference between criticism and cruelty, and unfortunately, more often than not I end up at the end of cruelty. Again, people in my life. Indirectly and directly both people have indicated my lack of importance to the world, or even that I am a reason for bad things. Once, back in ninth grade, this random guy I barely knew told me that I was so fat and ugly I shouldn't go to school and make people look at me. I still have no idea why anyone, especially this guy I didn't even know, would say that.
Nonetheless, due to my self-confidence issues, I'm a very jealous person. Anyone who has been close to me can confirm this, because there's no doubt I've been jealous of them at some or many points, and usually it messes up our friendships a bit. I'm working on it. But when it comes to cello, for example, I'm super competitive. I've begun chilling out about it recently, but it used to be that being anything but first chair was the most terrifying thing ever. In singing, I tend to hate people I consider better than me. In writing, if someone I know seems to be having more success than me, I get mad. Although I hate fighting, I do get argumentative often around people I'm the closest to.
But when it comes to talking about my writing, I'm actually pretty good at taking critique. That seems illogical, right? Writing is my greatest passion and the most important thing in the world to me. You'd think it'd be the most sensitive topic. But see, that's actually why I'm better at taking critique there. I wasn't prepared the first time I got critique, which is how I ended up deleting the first novel I ever wrote, but after that, I knew what I was going up against. As soon as I started sending out to people, I was prepared.
Because this is an art field, and in art fields, you get a lot of junk thrown at you. I knew I'd be rejected. I knew I'd be critiqued. And I sure as heck wasn't going to let it push me back, because you know what else I am? Stubborn. (Oh, and, I'm a professional, too. But I'm stubborn first and foremost.)
I've gotten lots of critique that's upset me. That's a fact. When I started sending out, I got some flack for being as young as I was, which ticked me off a lot. That's not genuine critique, so I had a right to be angry, I think. I also, as you all know from a recent post, have readers who help critique me, and a lot of the time, that stuff upsets me. But I get over it, because critique is necessary in my field. What upsets me when people critique me usually isn't the getting critiqued part, it's me trying to figure out how in the heck I'm going to fix the points they made. I've been known to sit at the dinner table crying because someone made a very good point about something illogical in my work, and I don't know how to fix it. But as soon as I figure it out, I'm not upset anymore. Actually, I'm usually kind of excited.
At Adams State, my old college, I noticed issues with taking critique, a lot. I worked for the student paper, as you know, and sometimes I would write or edit articles that had a bit of critique towards the artsy groups on campus, especially music. And sometimes, we would get the most insane backlash over it. Over actually very basic critiques, most of which were angled favorably overall. I also heard stories from my best friend there, who was a creative writing major a year ahead of me, about people who couldn't take critique in writing classes and were generally annoying because of it.
That, honestly, shocked me. A lot. Adams State isn't a hugely academic college. It's a nice place, and it's got some really sound areas of learning, so don't think I'm trying to bash it. But the thing is, when you're going to a school like that, looking for a good career, you need to really be focused on doing the best you can and learning the most possible. And art careers, like music and writing, are all about the critique. So it was crazy to me how sensitive these people were being. If I could tell the teachers in those areas at Adams State one thing, it would be to teach their students more about how to take critique properly. Because if, as an artist, you can't take basic critique at the college level, your career is going to be a nightmare.
When it comes to fields like writing, in summary, either take that critique like a champion or get the heck out.
What are your experiences with taking critique?
Images via clipart.com and adams.edu.