Criticism - graphic by Peter Aranyi

A while ago, in follow up comments to a post A tale of woe … or fevered imagination?, I quoted Lemony Snickett about how reading bad news is the worst way to get it.

Here’s a similar thought from The Guardian‘s Jean Hannah Edelstein about why bad reviews rankle writers far more that good reviews encourage them…

Bad reviews mean far more to writers than good ones. It’s not the least bit counterintuitive: good ones confirm the belief that we’re gifted, which is what makes us put our writing out there in the first place. Good criticism prompts a fleeting moment of pleasure, but only briefly satiates the longing for approbation: nearly as soon as someone says something nice, we’re looking for someone else who will say something nice and then after we hear from them, we start busily coming up with reasons why we should really find someone better qualified and more astute to say something nicer.

In contrast, bad reviews confirm our darkest fears: that we are rubbish at writing. I have a vague recollection that some people said some nice things about my book when it was first published two years ago, but I couldn’t tell you what they were (I hear it was big in Slovenia). But I will forever be able to quote verbatim the words of the critic who concluded a damning review with the remark that I write like I am “rushing to finish an undergraduate essay”. The urge to seize my laptop and send a stinging riposte “… and I think you should know that I rushed to finish all of my undergraduate essays and I have a very good degree!” was intense.

From an article Hell hath no fury like an author scorned prompted by a wounded author (and now internet sensation) Jacqueline Howett’s extended bite-back at a poor review of her book… which culminated in the author telling other commenters (the world?) to F*** Off!

Pure class.

A note later in The Guardian piece contains this nugget:

…people who defensively respond to negative reactions to their work always look like fools.

… which is kind of true.

How much more so people who go fly into a foaming rage and threaten their critics and the media wherein the ‘negative’ comments are contained.

How one rolls with the punches, now that’s character revealing.