And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Monday, November 24, 2008

But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for

Just did a post over at Genre Bender on critique groups, and I thought I'd do a little thing here on accepting critiques. Also, this was just pointed out to me this weekend (and I'm probably the last person to see it).

(first, I haven't received a rejection letter, I'm talking in general here)

Many people think artists and writers have easily bruised egos and just can't stand criticism, and for some they may be right (hey, and I may be crazy). You can see these people all over. There was even a website devoted to rejection letters and the writer's responses. Good luck with the sour persimmons, cousin.

However, I have a BFA from the Meyer's School of Art at the University of Akron, and I've been a professional designer for almost two decades now. Know what that means? Well, at art school (not my first major, BTW, that was Computer Science) we were critiqued every single day. Now, fortunately that was being critiqued by professionals and people who understood what they were doing (so no "I'm not sure that shade of red is correct" when they really mean, "Helvetica? You choose helvetica, what kind of moron are you?"). Top that off with 19 years of professional work getting critiqued by amateurs (that's where you have to divine what the client is really critiquing). That all leads to having a thick hide when it comes to critique.

Reject my story with a form letter? Pishaw! Most times it barely registers more than, "Time to go to Ralans and Duotrope again." Most non-form letters mostly talk about the good things. Sure, they didn't buy it, but they liked it enough to take the time to write a letter. That's a success in case you didn't know. I thank every editor who has sent me a non-form rejection letter. Those are really good people. But, savage me in a rejection letter and call in to question my heredity (it's never happened, just making that clear)? Ha! I say again, "Ha!"

That is nothing compared to having the professor who chose your thumbnail, chose your rough, guided you on the final rendering only to come into class as all the pieces are up on the board and say, "These are all fine, except for one. And that one doesn't deserve to even remain on the board with the others it's so bad." And then he grabs your piece and throws it on the desk. Yeah, your form rejection letter? It ain't even close. (again, there is no actual form letter I'm responding to here, I'm just making a point in general that form reject letters are no big thing) Also I'll point out that after another year of taking classes with that prof (oh yes, I signed up for every class he taught) we had a good relationship. He actually suggested that I should go to grad school. Not so much for my benefit, but the school's.

This is why I point out to you that googling "Oh John Ringo No" will lead to hilarity. Don't forget to check out the Cafe Press store. Now, I'm not recommending that you write a story like the one that started this (really, I'm not, don't do it, for the love of all that's Holy don't do it), but to be fair, he never intended it to go public and he claimed the only reason he wrote it was to get it out so it would stop bothering him. But I do recommend that you look at how he handled the criticism. (Props out to S Andrew Swan for pointing this out to the group yesterday)

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