All writers are expected to take criticism with a smile. We're supposed to thank people for taking the time to read and care about what we had to say. We should be thankful that readers took minutes out of their life to leave a comment, even if they give a bad review. We should shrug off each rejection we get as we search for the right agent or publisher. It's all a learning experience, right?
Every once in awhile though, an author loses their cool. Someone says just the thing that would hurt them the most, like,"Your book should never have been published!" And before you know it, they're writing angry/nasty comments back or talking about how much they despise that person.
It's not something any author should do. We're supposed to be more professional than that for a reason, but I also don't think it should be treated like the unpardonable sin.
I was in a writer's group for awhile. The leader was a professional editor and while I usually appreciated her comments and criticisms, this one day she said something that really hurt me. I read the first chapter of my work in progress to her that I had been editing for the past two years and she told me that it was obviously a first draft. I had lost track of how many times I had rewritten that thing. If it wasn't good now, then it probably would never be good, so it hurt for her to minimize the effort I had put into it.
I did not confront her. I instead went to other writers and said that her comment upset me. I expected sympathy due to the fact that they had all probably experienced similar things. Instead I was told to develop a thicker skin. That I'd never become published if I didn't.
I disagree with this logic entirely. I didn't yell at her in her face. I was polite, but the fact was my feelings were hurt. I've received many critiques, including countless from my boyfriend and mother, on the things I've written without panicking or yelling at anyone. I read other things to that writer's group. They told me what was wrong with those things. All of that I took calmly.
The fact is that writer's are all eventually going to crack no matter how thick their skin is. We are made to feel insignificant every once in awhile. When we query agents and publications, we are given form letters because they're too busy to deal with peons like us. If we mess up on querying in just the right way, we can be blacklisted by that agent and others that they talk to about us. We're forced to jump through hoops and complete our work before it will even be considered. We will be told by critiquers and other readers that we should throw out a book or entire scenes that we've worked years on. Editors will mark up our manuscripts so that they are bleeding red ink, even after we're editing ourselves until we can't see straight. We're told over and over again that there are thousands of others just like us, ready to replace us. That we don't matter and better do everything perfect or we'll never make it anywhere. And when we write our critiques and synopsis, we obsess and are told what's wrong with our story or our summaries over and over again.
I'm not saying these people are wrong for doing their jobs, but I'm trying to explain why readers crack every once in awhile. It's hard not to when you feel underneath a microscope all the time.
And I also want to point out that we're only not supposed to rant to the people who hurt us or single someone out publically on a blog by naming them and attacking their character, but no writer is going to go their entire career without being hurt at least once and it's healthy for us to seek our peers for support during that time and maybe release a little rant or two. More likely than not the individual has probably received several critiques that they didn't take personally in the past and even if they haven't, every writer has to eventually face the fact that they're lucky if they get a publishing deal and are likely not going to be treated as anybody important until they make a name for themselves through sales, which might never happen, and that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially when you've put so much hard work and time into something.
So I'm not saying that it's okay when a writer gets a bad book review and yells at the person who wrote it, but I am explaining why it happens and how, if we had a better support system for authors where we listened to each other rant without judgement, it might happen a lot less often.