Monday, 24 September 2012

The Wrath of Critics

Everyone has their critics, if not in their profession, in their lives.  'Haters gonna hate.'

Writers though especially, get a lot of flak from critics. Who was it said that critics are mere frustrated artists who vent all their pent-up creative frustration at those who are daring to be creative? Something along the lines of 'if you can, do, and if you can't - criticise.' Just as in life, those who don't chose 'to do' like nothing better than criticising those who are doing.

Now, I don't mean constructive criticism. Constructive criticism - i.e. helpful feedback about a piece of work - is welcomed by writers. It helps us improve upon our work. And it's good to get another's perspective on our closed-doors work. But at the same time, when it comes down to it, a piece of writing is a sole production. We keep our readers in mind sure, but we don't write to the critics' crack of the whip.

Purely negative feedback is bad (and I can't say that I've ever experienced it in this form), but what is worse is no feedback except the bad kind. Regretfully, I have experienced this. I've had the unfortunateness of perceiving a negative pattern when it comes to criticism. People who never say anything about my work will pipe up if they see anything 'wrong' with it. Hundreds of blog posts and articles and poems go by their eyes with no response whatsoever, except that is, if they notice a typo, a wrong date, a shaky fact, a grammar mistake, or a general disgruntlement with the subject matter. Yes siree. They speak out then, and only then, to chastise, correct, complain. That's a tad snide don't you think? I certainly do! 

But on the other hand, I've had plenty of good constructive criticism to boot this experience away. I just find it curious how people have no hesitation in pointing out the negative aspects, but when it comes to positive, they remain tight-lipped.  Both in writing life and real life. I'm sure you all have experienced this too no doubt? Oh 'tis a competitive world we live in, and with critics and cynics waiting at every corner, the way is a challenging one.  But it's not enough to deter us.

As it seems writers, and all creatives, don't have much time for critics, judging by the quotes below anyway. And I most admire their defiant indifferent attitude. Here's to not caring about critics - good or bad!

~ Siobhán


'Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.'  ~Aristotle

'Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.' ~Frank A Clark

'The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have time to read reviews.' ~William Faulkner

Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.' ~Jean Sibelius

'Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.' -~John Osborne

'A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out  shooting the wounded.'  ~Tyne Daly

'Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain - and most fools do.' ~Dale Carnegie

'Having the critics praise you is like the hangman say you've got a pretty neck.' ~Eli Wallach

'Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.' ~Kurt Vonnegut

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.
~John Wooden
'You can disagree without being disagreeable.'~Zig Ziglar

'I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse.' ~Samuel Johnson

'Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary? ...Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviews? The truth is, at any given moment someone somewhere could be making a face about you. But it's the reviews you give yourself that matter.' ~Carrie, Sex and the City

And finally, yes, to live is to garner criticism! Infact, it could be seen as proof of pulse: 


  1. Hey Siobhan,

    I love that quote by Aristotle
    It really sticks in my mind as at the moment that is exactly what I am doing.
    Saying nothing
    Doing nothing Being nothing

    I am my own worst critic, my own worst enemy, so afraid to offend someone or rock the boat in anyway. This post helped me see that not everyone will like me and that's ok.

    By the way I thought you might be Irish because of your name. I am Irish too!
    So lovely to run in to another Irish cailin.

    Take care x

    1. Hi Ruby, yes that is often the case that we are our own worst critics, worse than other people even! But we have to go easy on ourselves. We have to cut ourselves a bit of slack!

      And YOU ARE saying something and doing something and being something by writing your blog remember!

      Nope, I suppose I just can't hide my Irishness with a name like 'Siobhán' haha!

      Take care cailín! :)

  2. Some people, I have found, like to do nothing but put down others. what a way to live.

    1. Hi Juliette, unfortunately this is true, yes. What a way to live indeed - but I'm sure they will soon see the error of their ways, or they may too just get a kick of karma - and a touch of their own criticism to see the light.

  3. Unfortunately it seems that critics are a necessary evil--they keep us on our toes, we do things to avoid their condemnation and therefore push us to do better. But some go too far in their crtiques and simply want to deride and ridicule--there wouldn't be a way to please some no matter what. So, no criticism here but a review of praise for reminding us that we need to listen to the good critiques that are given to help us be our best.

    1. Hi Mary, they are a necessary evil I suppose... But yes, there are some who go too far. But here's to positive criticism and good critiques which do benefit us! Thanks for the praise! :)


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