overcoming average(?)

because it’s something the world just needs less of

on criticism (constructive or otherwise)

with 3 comments

today i half jokingly posted to twitter a link to an article about the necessity of critiques in the art world saying that i was afraid of critiques. it’s a very well written article by my good friend nate on the proxart site. i was following along on his twitter account and saw where the ideas sprouted from. he had previously posted an article about a piece of public art that the city had purchased at an ungodly price. he didn’t think it was very good at all (neither did i, for the record), and someone had commented to him that basically took the form of “just cause you don’t agree doesn’t give you a right to criticize.”

some of you may have noticed (but probably not) that a couple weeks ago i had posted an extensive (for me) essay on the difference between worship music and Christian music, then made it a private entry, then reposted a revised version a few days ago. there were a couple reasons for that. the first is that i wasn’t completely happy with how i had written it. it felt disjointed and sort of patchy in the flow of logic. the second is that i got a very long comment that rattled my cage a little more than i was comfortable with. it didn’t critique my writing of the subject, but the subject itself. it blindsided me with just how wrecked i felt about it. i dwelt on the “why” of those feelings for a while and talked through it with my wife and i think have since come to at least a minor conclusion about it.

writing is new to me. sort of. i’ve always loved writing, but we seem to have brief passionate romances before it doesn’t do what i want it to do, then we both say things we don’t mean and part ways for months or years at a time. on the other side, music is something that i’ve been doing consistently for the past 13 (holy hell….) years. i’ve been critiqued up and down on that and mostly in the earlier years. i grew from it, but only after i learned how to take the criticism. i had to learn to separate me as a person from the music i was creating. i don’t know if i’d learned to do that with my writing when i posted that. I’m still not sure it’s 100% possible if your art is truly an extension of yourself. anyway, i don’t think I was ready. on some subjects, I might still not be ready. maybe if I had written about something else church related that had nothing to do with music or fatherlessness I wouldn’t have taken it so personal. or if the comment wasn’t so personal, maybe I wouldn’t have taken it so personal.

I actually do want critique on my writing. I’d like to be better at it. I would, however, like the criticism to be about the writing rather than the subject I write about. of course, I’d also like to write another work of fiction and have that critiqued like crazy.

p.s. I typed this whole post trying not to put two spaces after the period before the start of every sentence because I just read an article today that said how incorrect that actually is to do despite what I’d been taught my entire school career

Written by matt

January 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

Posted in random much?, writing

3 Responses

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  1. “I would, however, like the criticism to be about the writing rather than the subject I write about”

    this is kind of a tricky proposition. i think because it is somewhat impolite or even politically incorrect at times to comment on people’s grammar. but it does come natural to comment about the subject especially if it is something that the commenter feels strongly about. maybe if you join a poetry club but out here in the net, maybe it won’t happen as much unless you specifically ask in the end for people to comment about your writing 😉


    January 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    • dude, you’re totally right. i think i should just be happy that anyone reads any of this at all.


      January 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

  2. First of all, yes, the one space after a period was so had to get use too. The other was not using … but – to signify a pause in the middle of my sentences.

    Next, what do you mean “another work of fiction?” Did I miss the first and how do I get a hold of it?

    Critique or criticism about the subject or my writing sucks either way, in my opinion. It is as if you are telling me my baby is ugly or my baby could be less ugly if I change something about her. It is only if you tell me my baby is the prettiest baby ever that I am satisfied. So I have come to the conclusion that pretty or ugly is subjective and if I am satisfied with my work then I’m good. I have to agree to disagree with critics and then let it go.

    In my opinion, you get better at writing by writing more and reading people that inspire you to write better.(Mine is Zissner. He is awesome and I have learned tons from reading his books) but never changing your style for anyone else, even Zissner. If I followed his advice completely, my style would have to change and I don’t want to change it. Just like you figured out that the spacing has changed, you figure out other things by reading others that you admire and determining what you love about how they write.

    If it is grammar and sentence structure that you want feedback on, then luckily there should be no hard feelings because a split modifier is a split modifier no matter what you are trying to convey. Ask someone you trust to work with you. There are sites like grammerly.com that can take each sentence and break it down to show you what grammatically might be wrong with it so you don’t have to worry about what someone else’s opinion is regarding your grammar.

    Nothing bugs me more, though, than when a comment is about a typo. “Really, really? You read my whole piece and all you have to contribute is I spelled a word wrong.”

    How about starting a writing group. There is nothing better than hanging out with other people who are trying to get better at writing too. I am in a women’s writing group and it has helped me sooo much.

    Okay, I’m at the point of appearing bossy but it is not my intention, just thought I would give you my 2 cents which you are free to completely disagree with and hopefully still love me.

    lori zimbardi

    January 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm

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