Remember when we were kids and we did something we were criticized for? We felt angry and rebellious and the first thing we did was argue and defend ourselves. And later as a teenager all we wanted was to be noticed and accepted but the moment our mother, or father, or friend, or even a teacher criticized our act, we felt frustrated. We felt defiant and quarreled with those who found fault with us even though we cried our hearts out and had breakdowns in our room. Honest criticism is hard to take, especially from a relative, a friend or even a stranger.
But we can’t have this attitude if we want to be a writer. We write a story, we put our heart, soul and a lot of hard work and sweat into it and then comes the time when someone has to read it. Someone has to evaluate our work. How do we accept what they say? What do we do? The same thing we did when we were kids? Do we argue? Defend ourselves? Feel rebellious and angry? Forget about our work and be dogged in protecting our ego? We can be grown ups and hear what the person has to say and see what we can learn from it. We can’t change other people’s phrases after they are uttered, nor can we change their attitude, but we sure can change ours.
“Genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains.” Albert Einstein
Our goal is to find out what may be wrong with our work, and see how we can make it better. I have had criticism that really helped, and criticism that really hurt. But I have come a long way since I first received it. And as Marsha Norman said:
“When you’ve been hurt and you think you’ll never have the courage to write another play, you must wait until a subject comes along that interests you enough to make you forget that you might be hurt again. Then you say: I really love this material. I really want to tell this story. This time it doesn’t matter whether or not they hurt me.”
There will always be people around us who will tell us that we can’t do it. There will always be those who will criticize us no matter what we do. It is not because of us or our work. It is because of their way of thinking and because of who they really are. We have to know how to reject their comments the same way we have to know how to accept others’. We have to acquire the skills to do so by our own experience and by reading and learning about the experiences of other writers. And in the words of the young superstar, Justin Bieber:
“There’s gonna be times when people tell you that you can’t live your dreams, this is what I tell them, Never Say Never.”