It got me thinking. Maybe we ought to have a universal charter that people should read before submitting their work for feedback.
It would go something like this:
1. As the person submitting my work for critique, I understand that people have taken time away from doing other things to provide me with feedback, something which will undoubtedly help me more than it will them. Though I may feel hurt by their comments, and may not agree with their observations, or decide not to implement the changes they recommend, I will keep that to myself. I will remember that I am grateful, and take the time to thank them for their input.
2. I recognize that not everyone has the same critique style. Therefore, unless we’ve agreed on a specific method beforehand, I will accept feedback in whatever form the critiquer cares to provide it.
3. I want people’s honest opinions. If they give them in a way that upsets me, I will recognize that one person’s ‘rude git’ is another person’s ‘straight-talker’, and re-read item #1 until I feel better.
4. If all I want is applause and a pat on the back for a job well done, I will not waste my critiquers’ time asking for feedback. If I do, I understand that it serves me bloomin’ well right if I don’t get the glowing praise I expected.
5. If I think the critiquer just didn’t ‘get it’, I will re-read #1 until the urge to say so has passed.
6. If I think the critiquer doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, I will re-read #1 until the urge to say so has passed.
7. If I want to disagree with a critique, I will re-read #1 until the urge to do so has passed.
8. If several people make similar observations, I will at least consider the possibility that, despite my undoubted genius, I may have missed something important.
9. If someone gives me a harsh critique, I promise to remember that I am (in years at least) a grown-up, and will resist any temptation to ‘repay’ them when I review their work.
10. I understand that some people actually set out to critique in a spiteful, hurtful, manner. They like to show off at the expense of others, and have little or no interest in helping others improve their work. On those rare occasions when I come across these people, I will remind myself that idiots like this are the exception rather than the rule. I will learn to recognize and ignore them, and remember that (as a certain old gran used to say), ‘It’s better to be upset by people like that, than to be people like that.’
11. At all times, I will try to remember that critiques are just opinions which, like spouses and children, can be embraced or ignored however one sees fit.
I left #12 blank. What would you put in there?
Has someone you critiqued ever got upset at you?
Jon's debut novel, Fur-Face (a Middle Grade fantasy about unusual friendships, unlikely alliances, and wanting to fit in), was published in eBook form by Echelon Press in 2010 (click here to see the trailer).
His presentation/workshop, The Fine Art of Self Promotion is based on entries from his popular online journal, An Englishman in New Jersey.
Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.