Thursday, October 23, 2014

F***ing Critics

James O. Born

Sometimes I have a hard time with critics. Not literary critics. Not even for critics on Amazon. I'm talking about the sort of critics that want to stunt our growth as humans and nitpick our efforts to better ourselves. In fact, it would be my guess that everyone feels exactly the same way, except the assholes who do it. How many subjects can you say people would agree on? No one is in favor of child abuse. No one thinks it's okay to kill a manatee. And no one likes someone who sits back and critiques your effort. I'm not talking about the results. I am not saying people shouldn't be able to talk about how bad a movie or book is. What I object to is someone criticizing the effort we make in creating a book or movie.

We've all heard it. “Why do you waste your time at that keyboard?" Or, "Do you think you're the next Hemingway?" It's hard to explain why you're writing before you're making any money at it. All you can do is look at them and say, "I like to do it." Or you can spit in their food later. The choice is really yours.

Let's turn the tables on these bullies. Come back with, "Why do you feel the need to criticize my effort?" Unless the time I spend writing is taking away from time I should be doing something for you, it's none of your business. Perhaps, early in my writing career, my wife could have been a critic because. arguably it took time away from her and some of the things I could've done around the house. But she never said anything. And that's not just because we don't talk to each other. I made great effort not to allow my writing to interfere with things and she's not the type of person that would criticize effort.

Why would someone criticize effort? My guess is that they are jealous. They find themselves with free time and no interests. Or, they resent the fact that you are embarking on one of your dreams, which in this case were talking about writing a book, and they are not. You cannot let those kind of critics get their way. Ever. No matter what the results of your publishing life, if you love to write, you should continue to do so. And the more someone complains about it or criticizes it, the more you should do it.  (I will point out that I made that same suggestion to Israel about their problems with Gaza and perhaps it hasn't worked out as well as I thought it would.)

We need to rise above the doubters and not become one. If you are destined to write then get ready for the ride.

I got the idea for this post while I was in a class. It is the first time that the quote actually inspired me to write the blog.

These are two of the quotes we should follow at all times, not just in writing:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ----Theodore Roosevelt

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”  Winston Churchill


  1. from Jacqueline: Great post. Those who are critical of the creative fire in others must also deny it in themselves, and are suffering from a kind of bitter, damaging envy - perhaps they don't want the people they know to change, or they are challenged by the mystery of creativity - who knows where it might lead, after all? I, too, have been fortunate in having parents who always encouraged us to be creative, and a spouse who is incredibly supportive. When I read this post I remembered Steve Soderburg, when he received the academy award for directing "Traffic" - he dedicated the Oscar to everyone, anywhere, who was engaged in the act of creativity in any sphere. To me, creativity is fundamental to the art of good living - and you don't have to have any kind of wealth to be creative - a piece of paper and a pencil is a good start, a few seeds and a bit of garden ...

  2. Many years ago, I attended a book signing for James Lee Burke. Somebody in the audience asked him to respond to a scathing review of one of his books that appeared in a major publication. He said, "I find that most of the jeers come from the stands." I've never forgotten that.

  3. from Jacqueline: Oooh, I like that one, Patty!

  4. Yeah, f**k the critics. Some days it's easier to do than others, but we must forgive those who don't understand why we write, why we create. They don't have the drive to create something and they can't understand why so much time is dedicated to something that has no immediate financial payoff. You and your friends here have obviously succeeded in finding an audience and readers, so to these particular critics, the effort is justified. But for so many of us who write but don't make a living at it, those critics (my sister) are relentless. I don't have a lot of free time (too busy trying to make that buck and pay the bills), but I can't not write. I love getting caught up in the writing, when the story is just between me and the page—absolutely some of the best moments of my life. So to all critics, kiss my arse and f**k off, I'm having some fun over here.