First Wednesday of the month means another edition of Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group. You can discover more participants here.
One of the most controversy generating posts of my Hijack This Blog! series was the one by Andrew Leon called "Is It Better To Be "Nice" or Honest?". Andrew has touched upon this topic many times on his own blog and in fact did a Part Two of the post he contributed to Tossing It Out. I encourage you to check out the two I linked to as well as some of the others that Andrew has done. He has a way with words, especially when it comes to stirring controversy.
I too enjoy stirring the pot sometimes. That statement probably can be taken a number of ways, but in this case I am referring to controversial subjects in blog posts. Tossing It Out has often delved into topics that can provoke debate, but not so much in the past year or so. But I'm getting ahead of myself. As promised in my post of last Friday, I'll get back to that aspect of my blogging activity on this coming Friday. Please don't miss that.
In this present post I want to look again at Andrew's July post about critiquing others. This time I want to bring things closer to home. Andrew was asking whether you are prone to give the nice answer to what you think about another writer's work or are willing to risk hurting or even offending another by telling them what you didn't like about their writing or even that it is just plain crap. But what about when you are in the hot seat of the one being critiqued? Would you rather hear the truth or flattery?
Sometimes I don't take too well to criticism. If I really like what I've written I can tend to be very defensive about it. However I antithetically will embrace the cool harshness of criticism when I respect the source and am given the logical explanation of why that criticism has been given. For example, even if at the time I didn't agree with what my creative writing professor in college said about my stories, I accepted his suggestions because he was the professor who had the experience and I was not. Now in retrospect, I can read those old papers and understand more clearly what the writing in red was saying. I grew into the criticism with time and experience.
On the other hand, when my mother reads something I've written you'd think I was the greatest writer in the world. And I do believe she's being sincere. I know the feeling of beaming with pride when my own kids do something and I see it as potential genius. Parents often see their kids as an extension of themselves and the values they have espoused to their offspring. The praise makes sense in many ways.
Then there's a middle ground that may lean toward truth or fiction. There are the friends or genuine fans who actually like what I do and are very forgiving when I falter in my output. To them I am always good--or so they say. Or there are those who want to play the mentor role and let me know I've got a ways to go and maybe I'll never get there. The range might be wide, but I don't really know yet because aside from my blogging output, I'm not getting my work out there.
Perhaps that's why I'm not actually finishing anything. I am afraid of what I might hear. It might be true and I might like it or I might not. Or it might be just flattery because the critique giver wants to be nice and not hurt my feelings. If that's the case I might be in for a rude awakening when I've poured time and labor into a product that no one likes or wants.
"Just do it!" Some of you may be saying and yes I agree. And I am probably exaggerating my fears. I'm being much more dramatic than I actually feel. Or am I? After all, this is Insecure Writer's Support Group Day and insecurity is the theme. Right?
So what would you prefer: Truth or Flattery? Be honest. Have you ever had something you've done, writing or otherwise, deemed as quite excellent only to find otherwise when you put it before the public?