Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Flipside of Criticism

In the past three days I have been accused of:

- Lying
- Being biased against (or judgmental of) self-published writers
- Denegrating anyone who doesn't publish traditionally
- Using controversy to drive blog traffic
- Being devisive / 'choosing sides'
- A myriad of petty things: i.e. 'dowright wrong'.

If it's important to anyone, I'm not walking away from those conversations unfazed.  I'm not the kind of person who kicks up dirt for fun - and I really don't enjoy being accused of things I don't think I deserve.  But I do recognise that putting myself 'out there' means taking the punches if / when they come. 

This is an industry of hard knocks, right?  So I'm determined to learn from the experience: If you tweeted any of those comments and believe they're genuinely deserved, please feel free to email me. I won't argue.  I will listen and consider.  If I'm wrong, I'd like to know.

The flipside is, I now have a HUGE desire to blog about things that are helpful, useful, and generally positive for anyone who calls themselves a writer.  So here are some ideas.  I'd love to see what you all think I should prioritize - or if you have other ideas please suggest them in the comments.

A.  Free critiques for first 500 words so we can discuss what a useful critique should achieve (see info box at top right of this page if you're interested 'cos frankly, I think this would be fun)

B.  Timeframes in publishing - what's realistic for writing a draft, finding an agent, getting a contract, seeing your book on the shelf?

C.  More self-editing tips (though we'll be getting into some heftier stuff than the previous posts)

D.  Analysis of popular YA fiction plot structure (it's my genre, so I read it a lot and have a lot of examples in my bookcase).

E.  Your idea here.

Your Turn: Tell me which of the above you'd like to read, or any ideas you have for blogging discussion.  My ears are all yours.


  1. Some people seriously cannot take critique, even the helpful kind that's peppered with flattery. Sometimes critiquers don't have the time/energy to add some nice stuff in there, which isn't really ideal - but if their critique is helpful and not just cruel for the sake of being so, then it's extremely valuable and we should thank them for the time they've taken to give us their thoughts.

    The more honest, the better!

  2. Hmm. Criticism hurts, but sometimes it's warranted. I don't know in this case (because I haven't read the comments or Tweets you're referring to, and I'm not familiar enough with your blog to know the full story!) but I think that even when it hurts, if it causes us to pause and think about our work and priorities, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though I'd be pretty ticked off if someone accused me of all those things without reason! Criticism should be constructive, not finger-pointing. :(

  3. Aimee, I've always appreciated your honesty here and the straight to the point way you say things. I think really serious writers will understand that critique is going to hurt. That's why they call it growing pains. *sigh* Sorry it's been rough and I hope it gets better for you.

    I'd love to see critiques (I've sent you my 500 words) :D and time frames in publishing. I'm sure the time frame varies across the board, so it's always nice to see how it has worked out for others.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts ladies.

    Trisha: I agree. In my critique group pointing out what works is considered just as crucial as pointing at what doesn't. After all, how will an author know what the reader enjoys if you don't? They might change something good because they don't know it's good.

    Faith: Thanks for stopping by, I hope we see more of you! (I promise, this is the first time we've hit this kind of... er... discord on Seeking the Write Life, and I hope never to hit it again).

    Charity: Thank you for being willing to be a Guinea Pig! I'll email you ;)

  5. Sorry you had people who weren't pleasant. I always think we should be civil, even when disagreeing. As for me, I would love to see some posts on timelines in publishing!

  6. I'll let you rip apart my first 500 if you want, if it's okay to submit something that's already published. If not, I understand. :) I think doing critiques is a great idea.

  7. I would especially love a popular YA plot structure analysis! That would be awesome, so would all the other ideas.

    It's good to see you're taking criticism the right way. I enjoyed how honest you were about the writing industry. :)