Do You Allow Critics to Influence Your Writing?

How do you handle criticism of your work? Do you allow it to cause a major rewrite? Do you feel hurt?

In a past life I was a fine art photographer. I sent a sampling of my work to the friends of photography with an application. I received back a letter from Ansel Adams accepting me to his workshop. To spend a week with all the major photographers was a dream come true.

One famous photographer (who is still alive and will remain unnamed) I stocked the whole week hoping for a chance to have him review my work. Finally, he granted me an audience. I brought to him two photographs of my grandparents. He was not very kind. He hated everything about them. He went on for about twenty minutes with his graphic criticism. I felt terrible.

The next day was the last day of the workshop and we had to put out our work on tables and stand behind it. I slid my grandparents’ photographs under my other work with just a part of them showing. Ansel Adams and Lucien Clergue came walking by. Just as they past my work Lucien reach ahead and grabbed Ansel’s arm stopping him. With Ansel in tow he reached for the hidden photographs and asked, “May, I?” I thought I would die. Speechless I nodded yes. He sleds them out and held them up for Ansel. They both went on about the emotion and how much they touched their hearts. They went on with as much praise as there was criticism the night before.

It was a very good lesson for me. There is only one persons opinion that counts: Your own.