Friday, April 10, 2015

     I recently read a post and the comments that followed in which the author of said post was making the point that as writers we are all in this together and should strive to be supportive of one another.  I certainly agree wholeheartedly as did most of the commenters who followed the original subject of the post.
     One, however, veered off subject a little to mention rude criticisms posted by readers of our work, not pointing the finger of blame at any one group in particular, just at readers in general.  This particular comment opened the little can of worms I keep locked in an old rusty file cabinet in the back of my brain in a dark corner of my Vault of Nasty Comments from Readers.  One fat, juicy worm squirmed to the forefront of my mind bringing with it the memory of that time I and my work were the unhappy recipients of a particularly mean-spirited and, I must say, highly inaccurate criticism that caused me to seriously doubt my skills as a writer.
      While it is true that even one unkind criticism can open a writer's floodgates, inundating us with a million and one doubts about the quality of our work, being so unkind as to criticize a book that obviously hasn't been read past the synopsis is especially mean-spirited.  
     When it happened to me the first thing I did was shed a few tears and swear.  Then I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and read it a second time, mining for tidbits of constructive criticism.  I did find one or two helpful-in-general suggestions and took them to heart.  The remaining comments went in the trash instead of the can of worms where I save the especially mean ones for later use in kicking myself when I'm already down.  But that's a post for another blog.  My point is that even the sharpest of criticisms can sometimes carry within them a helpful snippet or two, but please read the work, post, if not constructive, at least, accurate criticisms.
     I, and I'm guessing all of my fellow writers out there, would be ever so grateful if commenters would, accurate or not and before hitting Enter, put themselves in the commentee's shoes and temper their criticisms with a just smidgen of kindness.
     P.S. Luckily for me, a few months later that work I mentioned earlier (my first novel) won an honorable mention in the 2013 Paris Book Festival bringing with it a renewed faith in myself as a writer.