I don't usually do the whole "reblog" thing, but I came across something I wanted to share yesterday. Fanfic author and EqD pre-reader Aquaman posted some comments on how and how not to give and receive criticism which, while more than slightly vitriolic, is definitely worth reading. Click below the break to read his thoughts.
NOTE: For context: after receiving a rejection letter from EqD, an author on FiMFiction recently made a blog post saying (s?)he was feeling dejected about the quality of his/her story after getting a story rejected by EqD. The following was originally a response to one of the other commenters on that post.
If you really want to go find the whole drama bucket, I'm sure you can. I'm not interested in bringing any arguments about the pre-readers, EqD, the author, the commenter whom this is responding to, or the rest over here, however, and I'm certainly not going to link to any of them myself. I thought Aqua's comments about giving and taking criticism stood on their own, and I'm presenting them as such.
I can't speak for [pre-reader], but my problem here is not that you hate us or that you're trying to tell this author it's okay to fail. My problem is the way you're telling him that: by saying that he shouldn't listen to a word the pre-readers say, and that he should just be happy with whatever he writes because he made it and that makes it special.
To some degree, yes, that is absolutely true: you should take pride in your work, no matter what anyone else thinks of it. That being said, though, it is another thing entirely to take that to such a level that you completely invalidate criticism from a certain source or, God forbid, from any source. I don't care if Joseph Stalin himself rises from the dead to pop in and say that he doesn't like the way you wrote your main character; if it's criticism, listen to it, and decide for yourself whether it represents a level of technical skill you aspire to reach.
Right now, you're telling this author that he shouldn't listen to unreasonable critics, but by your apparent definition of the term, there is no such thing as a "reasonable" critic, because that would require that said critic has only objectively correct opinions. You say the pre-readers are useless because they have elitist standards; in return, I would like to ask who made you the one who should determine to what standards this author should aspire? This author's been working at his writing for over a decade, trying to build the courage to take such a big step as submitting to EqD, and the fact that he succeeded in doing so makes me goddamn proud to even come into contact with him.
But when he gets rejected and his completely relatable response is to feel embarrassed and ashamed, what do you do? Instead of comforting him and telling him to keep at it and keep practicing and keep that same fire lit in his heart, what do you tell him to do?
You tell him to give up. You tell him that he should ignore his critics, that he should be happy with mediocrity, that you and so many other deserving authors didn't make it so why in the hell should he expect any different as if his hard work and determination could ever actually amount to anything. You tell him it's not worth the effort to keep trying, that one failure is enough of a reason to quit striving towards his goal, and that is utterly and without question despicable. You are so wrapped up in your own hatred of us that you're dragging this guy down with you just so you can keep preening and fellating yourself over how right and noble and special you are, and that is just about the lowest, most selfish thing I can imagine anyone doing on this site.
I'd like to speak to the author again here, so [author], please listen closely: if you want to get onto EqD someday, that's awesome. If all you want is to play around with writing and have fun with this community and this oft-maligned art form, that's awesome too. And if your true goal is something between, below, or beyond any of that, then I truly wish you all the luck in the world with achieving it. But the most important lesson I want to impart upon you here is this: in your writing career, you're not just going to have to deal with harsh reviews and critiques you find offensive or even completely, abjectly wrong. You're also going to have to deal with ***holes like the ones who've invaded your comment thread, who are so content with their own mediocrity that they see nothing wrong assuring you that giving up is the right course of action, that a rejection or a failure is the fault of unfair judgement or preconceived biases or any number of extenuating circumstances that take responsibility and power away from you and put it in the hands of the people who would build up their own egos at the expense of victimizing you.
These people are toxic, and they are everywhere, and I've seen far too many aspiring writers get sucked into their bull**** to let this happen to you now without saying my piece. Let me emphasize again that I don't mean to say you absolutely must shoot for the moon with everything in life; what I would encourage and implore you to do instead is to decide for yourself what you want out of writing, and once you figure that out, don't let anybody--not readers, not pre-readers, and certainly not the ****heads rampaging around in here--tell you you're wrong to desire it. I can't promise that rousing success always comes with great effort, and God dammit, I wish the world was fair enough that I could. But I can tell you that if you stay strong and stay hungry, and put in every ounce of effort you've got, it is impossible to ever truly fail. No matter what these idiots tell you, never forget that.