Last week I talked about the video of the C. K. Williams lecture (“On Being Old”) and promised to lighten up in future blogs. So stay with me!
I’m interested in Williams’s comments about his reaction to criticism at the age of 75. He says that he is better able now than in his younger days to distance himself from “the theatrics of criticism.” This made me wonder how true this is for other writers over 50. How do we deal with feedback, criticism, editorial suggestions, bad reviews, or even rejection? Is it different for us now that we are older?
Not long ago, Susan Bono sent this short video of the British comedy duo, Mitchell and Webb, in her Sparks e-newsletter. (Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative www.tiny-lights.com). Take a look for a fresh, funny look at “the theatrics of criticism.” (See, I promised you I would lighten up.)
(Click below to see video.)
In this sketch, the writer (Mitchell) sits meekly while the critic (Webb) begins a barrage of suggestions about his novel. Webb tries to be supportive (“It’s all great.”) But it’s clear that his random jabs aren’t well thought out. He knows that something needs to be done to improve the writing, but he isn’t sure exactly what. “What if Sarah falls in love with…not that, but something like that,” he says to the writer, Mitchell. “You’re the author,” he says. But Webb is actually making himself the author as he tries to re-write the opening of the novel; and Mitchell, as the writer, is completely confused.
Does this bring back any memories of your own experience giving and receiving feedback on your writing? Have you changed over the years? If you’re just beginning to write or to return to writing, how do you feel about this topic? We’d love to hear from you.
In my next blog, we’ll continue this conversation.