28 April 2013

Opening up to criticism

by Clark Brooks

I get critics. I understand them. I appreciate that they have an important role to play. People are busy, money and time are scarce. Recommendations, pro or con, can be invaluable to readers. I also know there's a very fine line between critics and trolls, especially now when anybody with an internet connection can cast themselves as a person of influence. This little tidbit from an interview Prince did with Rolling Stone way back in 1985 has always stuck with me...

"One time early in my career, I got into a fight with a New York writer, this real skinny cat, a real sidewinder. He said, 'I'll tell you a secret, Prince. Writers write for other writers, and a lot of time it's more fun to be nasty.' I just looked at him. But when I really thought about it and put myself in his shoes, I realized that's what he had to do. I could see his point. They can do whatever they want." 

My first book isn't published yet so I haven't had a real personal stake in the review process yet. I'm not looking forward to it either. Not because I have thin skin and I dread the idea of people I don't know judging me and saying mean things about my work (that doesn't mean that I'm rough, tough and immune to that kind of thing; I have skin like toilet tissue and I'm already planning on spending a great deal of time in the fetal position in a darkened room once the critics finally get hold of the stupid thing) but because it's one of those things that's part of the deal and everybody has to go through it. I hate that kind of crap, especially the politics of it. All that stuff that isn't actual writing but necessary components of the writing "biz" seem so time consuming and counter-productive in that it has nothing to do with The Creative Process (I put that in caps in case it wasn't clear that I'm an artiste who is in love with the smell of his own farts). All the business parts of this business bore, confuse, frustrate and/or intimidate me. I know I have to sit down and grow up soon, though. A big part of that is embracing critics and reviews. That means taking time to really figure out all the nuances of Good Reads and Amazon and make connections with people whose reviews could be beneficial to me. All of that is going to be time not spent writing and creating product. "Tough luck, Suzie", you're saying (which isn't very nice and you haven't even read my book yet). "It's something every author goes through. Put on a helmet and shut up." And of course, you're right.

That doesn't mean I'm looking forward to it, though.

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