Tuesday, June 7, 2016
On Being an Eternal Critic
Once upon a time, I was the highly creative person that also seemed to have some marketing sense to her credit. These days, I'm more or less the bag of snark that can be counted on to play the villain instead. If I bother with you at all, I will give you the reality check you probably don't even know you need. This is especially the case when it comes to dealing with other so-called creatives as I've mentioned here in the past. And those people really, really don't like that.
They want me to tell them the same things their mommy told them when they were growing up. That they're special, that they're going places, and that one day all their dreams will come true if they just believe in themselves. The thing is though, I'm not going to tell you your art is amazing if it sucks. I'm not going to tell you I can picture you making lots of money as a freelance writer or whatever if I can see that you don't even kind of have the fortitude, the skill, or the discipline to even get out of the gate. That's just the way it is. If you want a pep talk, ask your grandmother, because I'm not here for that.
A couple of years ago, I just happened to catch a post a fellow writer made about me on one of his platforms. He said I was really more of a critic than I was an artist myself. He obviously meant it as an insult, but for some reason, I took it as a huge compliment because he wasn't wrong. Among many other things, I am a critic and I've always been proud of having the balls to call things as I see them. This world -- especially here in the age of participation awards and "A for effort" -- needs more of that, in my opinion.
When I was younger, I was always considered talented and I was regularly recognized for the things I created... but no one patted my little booty and told me I was a special snowflake "just because". Sometimes the criticism I received was harsh. A lot of it was incredibly unnecessary and some of it may even have bordered on abuse, but it nevertheless made me better at the things I did. It taught me not to settle for being mediocre when something really matters. And that's pretty much what other people can expect to hear from me if they approach me wanting feedback about something they've written or created. I might pay you a compliment (heavy emphasis on the "might") if you're super good at what you're doing. I will definitely criticize you, point out areas where you need to improve, and tell you to go make some adjustments.
And that in a nutshell is why I really don't buy into this whole "support your friends no matter what" mentality everyone has going on these days. I don't support bad art. I don't support half-assed art. I don't care who created it or how friendly I am with that person. If it sucks, don't expect me to stand behind it. Don't expect me to help you promote it. Definitely don't expect me to fund it. Give enough of a fuck about what you're doing to get better. Make your shit so damned irresistible that other people can't hold themselves back from supporting what you're doing. That is what a real artist would do.