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Dealing With Criticism

As writers know, no work of fiction is liked by everyone. Even a novel that sells a billion copies will have its detractors. And no matter who you are, criticism can sting.

So how do people deal with criticism? Personally, I try to emulate the great playwright George Bernard Shaw.

As the story goes, after the opening performance of "Arms and the Man," George Bernard Shaw went onto the stage to take a bow. And in the middle of all the applause and cheers, one man silenced the crowd completely by shouting, "Shaw, your play stinks!"

In the hushed silence, everyone looked to see how Shaw would react. He turned directly toward the critic, and said, "My friend, I agree with you completely. But who are you and I against so many?"

And with that, the applause and cheers continued.

So, to those who find flaws and fault with my work: I agree with you completely. But who are you and I against so many?


rhiannonhero directed me to this post because we were talking about criticism. I love that story about Shaw. I love his plays, and, man, he's so clever!

Perhaps you know what the playwright Ben Jonson had to say on the subject of people not liking his work? He was the official court poet of King James I, and the piece he was commissioned to write to celebrate the marriage of the Earl of Essex and Lady Frances Howard was heavily edited when it was performed. Thus when the masque was prepared for publication Jonson added the note:
this Song, of which, then, onely one staffe was sung . . . I have here set it down whole: and do heartily forgive their ignorance whom it chanceth not to please.
That's just about my favorite thing said by an author ever. I've been laughing about it for a week!
There's also different types of criticism. It's one thing to gently lay out the weaknesses and flaws in a work. It's another thing to be mean-spirited and take delight in doing so.
great story and a great attitude.
Well, I try.

December 2016

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