Tuesday, September 1, 2015


We all want to be loved.  It's natural human instinct to want others to shower us with adulation.  Trouble is that no one is universally loved, and no one's writing is adored by all.

I recently read an article by Stephen King that elaborated on this.  King is one of the most universally acclaimed writers not just of this generation, but of all time.  Judging by his influence on popular culture, it's safe to say that King has reached the pinnacle of a career most of us would kill to have.  Therefore it surprised me when I read about just how hated he seems to be by many.  His work has been called racist, homophobic, and psychotic.  Some of his work indeed goes down some dark roads, but I always assumed that if someone doesn't care for a piece of work, they won't read it.  Apparently some get off on reading what they hate and then telling the writer about it.

King's advice - shrug it off.

He's right.  People will criticize what you write, and not just strangers - friends and family will do things to dissuade you from writing.  They'll say you should have other priorities or that you're not good enough.  You've got to push through that mess.  Yes, listen to criticism and see if it makes sense, but don't let it discourage you, and certainly don't listen to those who just go on long rants about how much you suck.

This leads to the next point - write what you enjoy.  Some people will turn their nose up at your taste.  Let them.  Some people don't like Kool-Aid, but that doesn't stop me from drinking it by the gallon.  Why should my writing be any different?  If you don't write what you would enjoy reading, there's no chance in Hell that the audience would enjoy it.  Your enthusiasm comes through in your work, so figure out the stories you want to read, and write them.

I get it.  It's hard.  We writers have egos of crystal.  However, part of being a grownup is knowing that you have to let that criticism go.  You've got to find a way to be dispassionate or you'll go insane trying to please everyone.  Pleasing everyone isn't going to happen, so why bother?  If someone gives a valid critique, listen; but if they rant just to throw invectives, write them off, no matter who they are.  You'll be happier in the long run, and you'll write better stories.

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