Someone once told me, “When you point your finger at someone, remember you have three fingers on the same hand pointing back at you.”
I cannot claim to be perfect, but I try not to point fingers. I especially try not to point at other authors and criticize. I read a lot of books that I love and I read others that I don’t love. I don’t leave many reviews. Before I was an author, I didn’t realize how important they were. Now I only leave reviews of books that I enjoy because I simply cannot bring myself to criticize someone else. I would also never write a blog post where I presumed to criticize another author’s work. Period. It isn’t that I couldn’t find things to criticize, even my favorite historical romances of all times have the odd thing that I don’t quite love in them, but I choose not to.
I am not saying this is wrong for a reader to do. I have heard often enough of how frustrating and hard-headed Niall (Highland Solution) is, even from people who loved the book. I have learned a few things about what readers want to see in a hero from these comments. I will probably still create flawed heroes in the future, but I may change a few things. I am just not comfortable offering an unsolicited public critique to another author. For everything that I might choose to comment on that another author does, I am dead certain that there are multiple things to criticize in my own work.
I have recently read some blogs where the authors did this, specifically they publicly criticized another author’s work or even an entire genre. I cannot do this. Consider the following scene from Highland Solution. It occurs during the Christmas feast, the first real celebration Katherine is a part of at Duncurra.
Noticing her discomfit, Malcolm asked, “Lass, what has ye so distressed?”
Flushing even more deeply, Katherine answered, “It is a little embarrassing that every warrior in this room seems to be able to dance, while I stumble like a drunkard.”
Malcolm laughed and patted her arm warmly. “Katherine, of course they can dance, they are Highlanders. Highland warriors practice intricate dances to help build their agility, and then they celebrate victory by dancing them. Ye have nothing to be embarrassed about. Even though these country dances are not simple, ye did very well for your first attempt.” He leaned a little closer and, lowering his voice conspiratorially, he said “Ye know very well if there had been much room to criticize, Lady MacIan would not have missed the opportunity, but ye will notice she doesn’t dance at all.”
Katherine had to laugh at the notion that it was possible to consider silence from Eithne as praise. It did give her the confidence to try again when both Fingal and Father Colm asked her to dance later in the evening.
Even the very despicable Eithne knows when to hold her tongue. I pray that I remember this always. Silence can be a beautiful thing and I am learning to appreciate it more and more.
Beautifully said, Ceci. And when others attack, I have learned not to engage. Sometimes it is best to walk away and focus on the positive. Really needed to see this today… (((HUGS)))
Thanks for the hugs Mary. I should have clarified. The blogs I saw were NOT about me. 🙂 I just thought the hubris was astounding.
A wonderful post, Ceci. I agree with you 100%. I have learned things that have made me think from negative criticism, but I don’t have any desire to critique others (unless they’re in my creative writing class and actually want me to do so-but that’s private), certainly not on a public forum. When I have good things to say, I say them; I find that’s a great deal more enjoyable.
Reblogged this on My Agent's Pajamas: Or writing makes strange bedfellows–KATHRYN LYNN DAVIS and commented:
A post I really like from an author and friend I’m coming to admire more and more. Thanks, Ceci.
Thanks Kathryn! I agree. Spreading a little positive energy brings me much more happiness too.