Monday, June 2, 2008

The Skin of a Writer

Last week, I received two very different responses from writing clients within the same hour. One praised my writing style and thanked me profusely; the other all but damned me to hell (then requested I not take offense.)

Surprisingly, I was not overly moved by either. The former, though sweet, did not make my head swell to the size of a Macy's Parade balloon. The latter did not turn my hands clammy with fear.

It would seem that I am developing, ever-so-slowly, a thicker skin.

The way I see it, this development is both good and bad.

Obviously, being able to take harsh criticisms with a grain of salt (or a tub of it, if necessary) is always preferable to turning into a sobbing mess whenever someone says "Your work sucks." However, I worry that I will somehow lose my artistic "sensitivity" if I become too immune to uncouth remarks directed at my writing.

I know there is a happy medium somewhere in this jumble, but I'm not one for staying in the center. Typically, I gravitate toward one extreme or another.

What do you think? Is a leathery exterior necessary for this line of work? Or should one always feel a slight sting when one's writing is rejected?


Ello said...

INteresting. I always appreciate the criticism most because my goal is to grow as a writer and I can usually peel away the layers of useless criticisms to find the nugget of gold that will help me get better. So my answer is yes you need a thick skin and you need not to get personally offended by a comment like that. And yes you need to look for the true criticism that may be helpful. But you also have to be able to ignore criticism that is critical for the sake of taking someone down and that gives no benefit to you as a writer.

If that makes any sense then maybe this Monday is not lost!

Anonymous said...

Yes you need a thick skin NO I do not have one and in particular reference to the tub of salt....where are the margaritas????

SzélsőFa said...

If a criticism is said with good intentions than it can make you grow. If you agree with it, take it, use it and improve yourself according to it.

However, if the intentions are bad, then let it fall off of you. Practice shrugging your shoulders, that's all what you need to do.

The Quoibler said...


Criticism doesn't bother me, but when it's unsupported by any facts, I become frustrated.



You are always such a breath of fresh air! Did you get your book?



I totally agree. A well-constructed criticism is fine, but one that's just meant to be nasty or uppity... well, that's not cool at all.


Mary Witzl said...

I see this development as good only -- you've gotten stronger. Uncouth remarks should be ignored after a quick perusal (to make sure they aren't worth anything). As for not getting a swollen head -- well done!

I used to be VERY thin-skinned and could not bear criticism. Now, dozens of rejections later, I'm inured to them and sift hopefully through the kinder, more hopeful ones to find any that tell me WHY. I agree with Ello: I look through the criticism for the nugget. I always feel a little shocked -- it is still hard to absorb the first nasty shock of criticism or rejection -- but the nugget is always worth it.

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