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The best way to handle negative criticism is to do nothing at first. Just absorb the blow or insult or whatever it is. A glass of wine is not a bad way to cope in the short term. After a day or two, once the wound has healed at least a little bit, then you’ll be able to let yourself be a little bit more objective. Now you can draw up a plan of action by which to fix the problem. To do this, you must return to fundamentals—that is to say, the craft of fiction. The central negative criticism might pertain to character, setting, dialogue, movement of time, tone, or point of view, but for most, the criticism will probably have something to do with plot. Whatever the problem is or seems to be, only by looking at the craft of the thing can you determine whether or not the negation is totally justified or not.
If you’re not going to give in to the negative criticism or make any big changes the next time you write a novel or short story or whatever, then, for your own peace of mind and pedagogy, you’ve got to come up with two or three good reasons why the criticism is undeserved. This is the only way to ensure that you’re not being unreasonable or callow or spiteful.
I might also add one other way to handle criticism. You should be aware of the fact that many (not all) detractors will be guilty of projection. In other words, they’ll trash you only because they see in your imperfections their own imperfections. There is no one who will be more guilty of this than the proverbial “bull$h!t artist” academic type. Anyway, just knowing how common the psychological phenomenon of projection is might also help to ease your wounded ego.
Song of the Oceanides is a highly-experimental triple narrative transgenre fantasy that combines elements of historical fiction, YA, myth and fairy tale, science fiction, paranormal romance, and more. For ages 10-110.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Blue Hill, Maine.
3 August, 1903.
From the moment Emmylou heard the song of the Oceanides, she recognized something godly in the tune. As it resounded all across the desolate shoreline of Blue Hill Bay, she recalled the terrible chorus mysticus ringing all throughout that extinct Martian volcano the day her father went missing down in the magma chamber.
Aunt Belphœbe followed along, guiding Maygene through the sands. “Why don’t you go play in that shipwreck over there?” Aunt Belphœbe pointed toward a fishing schooner run aground some fifty yards to the south.
When Maygene raced off, Emmylou refused to follow. By now the chorus of song tormented her so much that an ache had awoken all throughout her clubfoot. Before long she dropped her walking stick and fell to the earth. Closing her eyes, she dug both her hands into the sands and lost herself in memories of the volcano. How could Father be gone? Though he had often alluded to the perils of Martian vulcanology, she never imagined that someone so good and so wise could go missing.
The song of the Oceanides grew a little bit louder and increasingly dissonant.
Opening her eyes, Emmylou listened very closely. The song sounded like the stuff of incantation, witchcraft. And even though she could not comprehend every word, nevertheless she felt certain that the Oceanides meant to cast a spell upon some unfortunate soul.
About the Author:J.G. Źymbalist began writing Song of the Oceanides as a child when his family summered in Castine, Maine where they rented out Robert Lowell’s house.
The author returned to the piece while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005. He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.
NOTE: The book is on sale for $0.99. Free for Kindle Unlimited Members or as part of Kindle MatchBook. Buy the book at Amazon.