11 Writers on How They Deal With Criticism


I think when you’re in, let’s say, the workshop environment, it’s an altogether different ballgame.  I remember being desperate for tough criticism of my work.  I felt like if no one had any real criticism, that meant it was such a mess that they weren’t engaged enough to say anything.  Now, though, with a novel out, the stakes are different.  It’s finished–last draft there!–and there’s nothing I can do but listen to the criticism–good and bad.  And I’ve been very fortunate in that I haven’t had much negative criticism of my novel at all.  But before I even got the very first review of the novel, I found myself falling back on the idea that this is just a job, and one can’t be too invested in one’s successes or failures.  The flip side is the part that a lot of writers disagree with.  But I don’t–I really do not get too invested in my success.  The day I sold my novel, my editor called me up to tell me and I had a four month old in my arms, and she had a dirty diaper, and I spent the whole phone call just praying she wouldn’t wake up.  I sold the novel, got off the phone, and changed the diaper.  There was no 50-yard-line dance or anything like that–the fortunate thing is that since I’m a single mom, I just don’t have the emotional space to get either very happy about success or very dejected about failure.  And so I think of this as a job and nothing more.  I look at it this way–a stockbroker doesn’t crow about how many shares he turned over in a day, and when the Dow drops 500 points in a day, he doesn’t take it personally.  Why should I?  This is a job.  Writing’s a job.  you go to work and sometimes you have a hard day, and sometimes the heavens open up and shower you with acclaim. But there’s nothing mystical about either thing.  It’s just another day at work.

— Jacinda Townsend’s Saint Monkey was recently Flavorwire’s Book of the Week