Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Being judged...

Someone posted on AbsoluteWrite:
I'm starting to feel denigrated. When I hear people insult and put down best selling authors as bad writers or even terrible hacks, well, where does that put me, the writer who hasn't even made it out of the gate? Who keeps getting rejections? I must be a complete pile of shit in comparison.


I can certainly understand that feeling, but I don't think it's necessary (before you say "easy for you to say," let me clarify: just because I have one book published doesn't mean I don't get rejections anymore -- every time I put something out there, I face rejections).

Everyone gets judged, whether you're published or not. Publication or submission is just another way to be judged. Yes, it's frustrating and I can understand how sensitive we are. But the thing is, published authors get judged by EVERYONE, all the time, because, well, their books are out there to be read and judged. And people are harsher judges when they have to pay for the darn thing. And someone like Dan Brown is an easy target. His works are in the public eye, and it sold millions. I'm sure there are people out there who've read my book saying "This book sucks." I have to focus on the positive.

Being judged is an integral part of an artist's life.

For everyone who thinks Dan Brown is a hack, there are millions who think his books are great. And if someone writes like Dan Brown, I hope they don't feel like they have to change so that people people will not criticize their work. Because, the reality is, somewhere, someone is going to criticize something.

I guess my point is that whether you're published or not, you need to find that nugget of truth about your writing and be confident about it. And focus on the work -- every rejection is more about the work itself (which may very well need improvements) than the writer.

I know it's more difficult to do, if someone keeps getting rejections, because it seems like getting that one acceptance is the "validation" of how good our writing is; but most often than not, it's simply "the right thing at the right place at the right time." If you think rejections are tough, wait until you see your first negative review, or the first person sends you a piece of "hate" mail about your book, or you sit at the store and no one is interested in buying the book or they say "the plot seems stupid." Criticism is just a fact of life. It may make it feel a bit "better" if you're getting paid -- but criticism is still criticism; rejection is still rejection. We just need to let them slide off our backs. Smile and nod and move on.

The bottomline is, we all just need to keep writing and keep believing in ourselves, if writing is truly what you love to do.

6 comments:

Sean D. Schaffer said...

Ray,

I just read your article and I really enjoyed it. I frankly needed to hear from someone who's been around the block once or twice that no matter what I write, people are going to judge it.

I've known this stuff in my mind, but only in the last couple days have I been able to put any hint of that attitude into practice. Thank you for being blunt and to the point in your article.


Sincerely,


Sean D. Schaffer

Ray Wong said...

Hey Sean, welcome! Yeah, it's not easy -- it's still not easy for me and I've been around a bit. But you just keep going and keep doing what you love. That's the most important. And yes, no matter where you are and what you do, people are going to judge you. How you react and how you take care of yourself make a world of difference. To me, it's about "take what you can and learn, and then discard the rest."

I think someone said this about criticism: "Your opinion of me is none of my business." I like that one.

Cheers,
Ray

Sean D. Schaffer said...

"I think someone said this about criticism: "Your opinion of me is none of my business." I like that one."

That's an interesting way of looking at others' opinions. I've been implementing something similar in my own life over the last few days, though not identical. It really helps me out.

I'll talk to you later, and I hope you have a good weekend.

:)

Sean

Kanani said...

Hi Ray,
I think the problem is when someone like the person who asked the question is just starting out in writing classes and critique groups. People are usually VERY happy to attack anything they deem as unworthy because they think it makes them seem well-read and very, very smart.

Things I've heard at UCLA?

"John Updike should quit writing."
"I don't GET Janet Fitch."
"ANY book with gold letters is bad."

So you see how subjective this all is, and as you said... for every one person who says Dan Brown is crap, 1000 just love him.

Interestingly, often the biggest loudmouths are those who hang on clich├ęs when it comes to giving feedback. It's one thing to say something doesn't work, it's another to say why and also tell a writer how to make something shift gears and start working. So you can learn a lot by what people say about other authors. You'll figure out if they're worth listening to or not, and if in the long run you'll learn anything from them at all.
xxx
Kanani
(who liked your book very much!)

Ray said...

Thanks Kanani! You're absolutely right. Sometimes I have to remind myself not to be too critical of others.

Kanani said...

Hi Ray....
Yes, it's a problem sometimes. I've struggled to find ways to give feedback that's helpful, and also when reading other's feedback on my stuff, I struggle to put my ego aside.

Take care
xx
K