You suck, your books are complete literary garbage, and you smell like rotten socks.
An Angry Eunuch”
I have some good news. As much as you may think you will receive this type of letter when you first publish your work, you won’t–because really, what reader knows how you smell?
On a more serious note, there are two types of critics: the helpful critic and the angry critic. Both serve valid purposes.
The helpful critics are friends, family, beta-readers, editors, and readers that bring up flaws in your work (often minor) and call attention to your weaknesses. As a writer, the initial response by most is to brush off the feedback and call the critic crazy. However, once the writer sets aside their overly personal relationship with their material and looks at it from the helpful critics eyes, one can see the merit in their comments. When I began writing a few years ago, I often got the comment: “Where’s the emotional response!”
I would immediately get emotional…Wasn’t that enough of an emotional response? No… And as I grew and opened up to the advice my fellow writers were bestowing upon me, my writing ability increased. My critics did exactly what they were supposed to do–they helped me to become a better writer.
As for the second type of critic, or so named ‘the angry critic’ they too have a purpose.
And yes, as a writer you will occasionally run across these types of critics.
By far, the most distressing letter I ever received came from an anonymous source after I had entered my first writing contest. It was my first novel, my first major attempt at becoming a professional writer–and I had much to learn (that novel rests comfortably at the back of my closet, under deep layers of pillows). The angry critic told me that my writing was terrible. In fact, they went on to say, it was so bad that I should seriously consider going to college (which FYI to them I have a degree from a University which had granted me a scholarship for my writing).
After crying and flipping the bird at my computer, I came to a firm conclusion. I would not let one angry mean-spirited critic win. I used that low point in my writing to lift me. Using a line from Dirty Dancing, “No one puts [Danica] in a corner.”
I joined my first critique group. Took every class and read books on writing. I studied until the wee hours of the morning about the market, core market interest, effective dialogue, pacing, query and synopsis writing, and my favorite Strunk and White.
That one angry critic lit a fire–one that will never burn out. So thank you, my angry little eunuch. You have helped me to excel.
When you write, you must develop a thick skin. You will receive negative and positive. You will laugh with pride and cry with despair, but hold your head high. Use the criticisms that comes your way and you will have the writing wind at your back.