The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Constructive Criticism

Being able to handle criticism is not an easy thing to learn. You would think that after more than 14 years of it, I would be used to it by now. And maybe back in the day when I was at Vandy, I was better at it. I can't say for sure because 10 years ago doesn't come back with that kind of emotional clarity. (At least not when it comes to criticism.) I remember being told that I was terrible as a singer, and I remember having people say things in critique like "If I sang that song, I would do such a better job." Hurtful comments that honestly were anything but constructive.

The most hurtful criticism came when I was in New York one spring during graduate school with a fellow soprano who had some serious chops. Our teacher looked at us one day and said, "If only I could have R's voice with S's passion, then I might have a singer who could make it in this business." Me being S of course. That hurt so bad. It's the kind of comment that sticks with you ten years later and still feels fresh and painful.

So how do you learn to live with criticism when you're heading into a career that will be filled with it? And, let me note, not everyone follows the constructive criticism rules. Some people will just criticize and even get downright ugly without offering a single piece of constructive criticism. It's painful. It's salt-on-a-cut kind of pain, sometimes. And other times, it's rip-your-heart-out-and-feed-it-to-the-bears kind of agony. "Develop a thick-skin" some will tell you, as if anyone really knows what that is or how to suddenly grow one. Is there a special thick-skin lotion I can apply nightly to achieve the desire results? I doubt it.

I think the natural response is to want to lash out. To explain yourself and justify your work or your ideas. But what good does that really do? Are you going to change someone's mind about their own opinion? Probably not. In the end, you'll just end up looking desperate and bitter. So, for now, I'm simply working on trying to be zen-like in my ability to 'let it go' and not retaliate with harsh words aimed to pierce back at the source of the wound. Maybe someday I will master that ability and be able to move on to phase 2: don't let it hurt in the first place.


Xbox 360 Supportand 3 Flashing Lights October 20, 2009 at 11:45 PM  
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Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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Beautiful DemonsThe Time Traveler's WifeLoveroot: PoemsFear of FlyingWe the LivingAnthem

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