Criticism And The Human Condition

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Why does the slightest criticism when it comes to writing make us cringe. Not so much with an essay, letter to an editor, or a check at the grocery story. But, for some reason, criticism for a work of fiction cuts us at a core level. Why? I believe it is because if we are writing honestly, we are releasing little bits about ourselves; who we are, a little at a time to see how the world responds to it. It’s kind of like an ashamed patient saying, “I have this friends who says it hurts when he/she…” Then, gauging by how the doctor responds, perhaps a bit more truth gets leaked.

It’s not that criticism regarding style, sentence construction, description or narrative is so difficult to listen to. After all, most writers I know are their own biggest critics and already believe their writing sucks on a mechanical level. It is that each character in a work of fiction is a representation of ourselves that we are gauging the world’s reaction to. Are they accepting or did they gasp in horror?

So, if you are a fiction writer who fears criticism then be encouraged. You are in the company of the greatest writers of all time, who, in spite of their fears wrote honestly and created the works of literary genius by which all other writing is judged. If the criticism cuts deeply, you are probably on the right track. Keep up the good work.

Tread boldly and make no apologies for it!

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