Receiving Criticism

What’s the best and worst criticism you’ve ever received? And how did you assimilate it?

I’m interested in experiences of any kind of critique you may have received on any kind of creative activity–art, craft, music, writing, athletics, business–anything.

Here’s why: In September I’ll be taking the Story Grid Editor certification course. One of the biggest questions in the writing-and-editing community is how to make sure the writer-client is ready for editorial work.

I’m working on a little book for prospective clients–fiction writers who may not yet know how to receive feedback. I’ve managed to acquire the skill in recent years, but I don’t know how I did it. So I’d like to hear from you.

–Do you have the skill of receiving critique or feedback?
–How did you get it?
–Was there a particular turning point?
–Or do you avoid critique altogether? If so, why? And is there any ideal situation under which you’d be open to it?
–What other questions should I be asking to improve my own knowledge of how to receive criticism?

Comments and feedback welcome! Thank you.

Book cover progress

The “buckskin breeches” have arrived. They’re currently white cotton men’s jogging pants with an elastic waist and a drawstring, but they’re about to undergo some surgery. Yellow dye, de-elastication, some natty covered buttons…

Meanwhile, the poet shirt has a collar and front frills, and the backdrop drapes from eBay (amazingly inexpensive because, it turns out, they’ve been in mothballs) are enjoying a much-needed airing outdoors.

A white cotton poet shirt in the works, with a collar and a front ruffle, but no sleeves 

The actual stuff that will be going inside this fabulous book cover–i.e. the novel–is in final edits. I should have a release date soon.

The Glamorous Life of The Novelist

While I dither about hiring a model to pose for my book cover photo shoot, my living room is half stage-set, half sewing room, and all disarray. For test photo purposes, a mockup of the costume, made of Goodwill clothes, is pinned to the baroque-ified wingback chair on the borrowed Persian rug.

At the moment, “Tristan” is holding sewing supplies for me while I prepare to sew his real costume: a Regency-era poet shirt (from a percale sheet), a brocade waistcoat (from a scrap of upholstery fabric) and buckskin riding breeches from a pair of skinny-leg men’s jogging pants dyed yellow.

I probably won’t get the nerve to go scouting for an attractive, tall young man to pose with a riding crop in my living room until I’m thoroughly sick of this inconvenience.

Wetiko and yetzer hara

Paul Levy, in Dispelling Wetiko, uses the Hebrew term yetzer hara, which he defines as “evil inclination”. It rang a bell, so I got out my notes from the Story Grid Workshop, and sure enough, that is the exact term Steven Pressfield uses for Resistance.

I’m excited to have discovered the link! Resistance–not doing your work–IS WETIKO, is yetzer hara, is Malignant Egophrenia.

Levy goes on to imply that our Daemon, our True Nature, our Higher Self, God (or any other of the “thousand names by which it is called”) is what Pressfield called neshama during his talk, and which he equates with the Muse (and, I’m pretty sure, what Liz Gilbert refers to as the plane of Ideas). Levy says we gain access to this Daemon level of consciousness through mindfulness–a “psyche suffused with the felt sense of the radical contiguity and unity of all Existence.” Wetiko can’t survive in that environment.

Now, trying to make a point-for-point comparison between Levy and Pressfield, who are talking about somewhat different areas of life, is probably not going to work. But they meet, very definitely, in Creativity, which they both talk about all the time.