Monday, August 9, 2010

Dragon Skin Needed

Every writer knows you need a thick skin to survive, but after the last few days, I'm thinking I need a new layer of dragon-strength scales.

I'm trying to remember:

There's always something to learn from criticism, but...

It's only one person's opinion.

Nobody is perfect - including me and those saying hurtful things.

Most importantly, I'm trying to remember:

No one forced me to do this. It was a choice. No one promised it would be easy.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to look for thicker skin.


  1. Elspeth, what happened? So sorry someone hurt you. Gosh, I remember the first time someone criticized my writing. I was devastated. Now, I"ve learned to take it in stride. You could ask 3 people to look at the same material and get 3 different responses. And how people share their criticisms is crucial as well. Take everything with a grain of salt, than ask yourself if there is some truth/value in what they say. Hang in there, okay?

  2. Elspeth - I know exactly how you feel. It's so hard to hear hard criticism. I hope it helps to know that all writers deal with this. So do other artists. For instance, a critic of Fred Astaire's RKO Pictures screen test said of Astaire: "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little."

    You are a talented writer and creator.

  3. Ok Espeth, so do need to call the gang together or what? Hurting you will not be tolerated.
    Oh and by the way, the skin in the illustration -- it looks like lemon slices. Is that stronger than dragon skin? I cut a lime this morning that was pretty tough. :>)

  4. Good grief! After all your problems I spelled your name wrong -- Bad Keyboard!

  5. Karen; I've certainly never thought everything I've written was Shakespeare-worthy but the last few days have knocked me about a bit. I'm trying to find my feet. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    Margot; I did know that bit about Fred Astaire...and I know this is all part and parcel of the creative life. But geesh...

    Mary; What a kind thing to say, thank you! As for the illustration, I hadn't noticed it looks like lemon slices...perhaps its telling me that when life hands you lemons to make lemonade. Honestly, at this point, I'd prefer something a tad stronger.

  6. Oh, Elspeth, I'm so sorry you're hurting. This thing we call writing is tough enough without all the rest that goes with it. Email me if I can help with anything. There's email info on my blog. Take a short time to nurse your wounds, then come out fighting like a champion.

  7. Yeah, it's always hard. Especially when you put your heart and soul into your craft and it's like they pulled your heart out. I hope you find your new skin because I don't want you to give up.


  8. I think some people are just mean and spiteful, period. Think of them as naked little gremlins. (as you're puzzling that out, you forgot to feel hurt, didn't you?) :)

  9. When my first book came out, a memoir, it received lots of very favorable reviews on Amazon - wonderful - but one day I stumbled across a blog where some woman had read my book and was just blasting it - not only calling it absolute rubbish, poorly written and worthless use of paper, but attacking me personally as a no-good bum of a worthless person. Took me a few days of deep breathing to get over that, along with considering the relatively unknown and apparently cantankerous and venomous type of person who wrote it. It happens. Get your new skin and carry on - we all go through this, comes with the territory of being an artist ... we get criticized, sometimes fairly, occasionally unfairly.

  10. Chant “I can’t please everyone all the time” as you pour a big glass of wine, then sit back and concentrate on the good things you’ve heard. I suggest going back to read some of your blogs, especially those with the sheep – they always make me laugh.

    However, if you do run across that thick skin, I’m hoping you’ll let me know…I realize handling criticism is often easier said than done.

  11. If it's good criticism - that is, if what they say is aimed at the work itself and not at me personally, and if there IS something that needs fixing, then I'm okay - after the shock passes, which it usually does rather quickly, if, as I said, the criticism is useful. If not, then send me that thicker skin!

    I just found you through KarenG (Coming Down the Mountain). Glad I did.

  12. Remember, it's like you said - it's only one person and chances are that person doesn't like anyone's writing but their own. Then take Jane's advice. I just pasts through mostly and may not always comment, but I really do enjoy your writing very much.

    Thoughts in Progress

  13. Criticism always hurts, but there's no excuse for anyone to say anything hurtful. Anyone who's not constructive isn't worth listening to.

    And ... it's ONE opinion, and it's NOT YOU they're criticizing. I know it doesn't help--and it never goes away. The best I can say is that the misery hangs around for shorter and shorter intervals as you continue. And you have to continue.

  14. I can only recommend going back to read positive reactions to your writing and emails, etc, that build you back up.

    I tell myself to take the middle road with feedback--I don't totally believe the positive reviews I I don't believe the really negative ones I get. But there's still that pang...

  15. Venomous criticism can be so devastating. More than once, I've been paralyzed by harsh words about my writing, so I guess I need to go looking for a dragon skin, too. Although I don't like the idea of having to kick a dragon out of his skin. Maybe I'll just tame the dragon and have him flame anyone who comes along knocking my work...?

    I hope you can identify what (if anything) was of value in the critique and let go of the rest. Good luck getting back in the saddle. It's one of the hardest things there is about writing...

  16. Sorry I missed this post yesterday or I would have sent a cyber-hug your way. It is so hard not to let the negative criticism knock you down, but I like Elizabeth's approach. Don't take the positive or the negative so seriously that it affects your ability to carry on with the writing. Early on in my career a good friend and I made a pact that if we ever got so full of ourselves that our egos started to swell, the other person could administer a good swift kick. She also said, "remember, we are still the ones who clean the toilets."

  17. Remember Amy Ryan's film clip about Amazon reviews?

    The criticism can hurt to the core, but the praise will come, and it will be all the sweeter because you suffered to get there.


  18. Well...I tried to live the link to the film clip, but I apparently screwed it up. Here it is:


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