Dealing with criticism and literary criticism of love poetry and prose is not easy.
As you read the next paragraph, ask yourself if the following comments are a “critique extraordinaire”? Does this come from a legitimate literary critic? Can it be considered to be a valid literary criticism, or is it merely a personal criticism or an assault on one author’s personhood, work and literary project?
“Your bio and articles profess ‘love’, and you demonstrate by your actions, that you know absolutely nothing about it. You are being an intellectual hypocrite…….and sadly, it is showing.” (1)
A writer’s first response to this kind of criticism, is probably one of utter shock. This kind of a statement would stun any writer, particularly someone who writes about love. A person who writes about love, more than likely demonstrates love, in many different ways and on many different levels. Whether it is perceived as that by a would-be critic, is another matter.
The writer might react to this kind of criticism initially, by attempting to defend his or her personhood, work or literary project. Perhaps a more mature writer might respond, by simply not responding to it at all. He or she might just allow the critic to make his or her observation, or judgment and choose not contest it at all. Or he or she might agree with what the supposed critic has stated, whether it is justified or not.
“Right, I confess that I know absolutely nothing about love. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about anything, but I am open to learn. What makes me open to learn, is the reality that I know, that I don’t know anything.”
In reality, any time a writer undertakes a major, literary project of significance, there will be criticism. In fact, the criticism may become so severe, that the writer will be sorely tempted to end the project that has been initiated, right then and there.
It is exactly this kind of negative, destructive criticism that proves beyond a doubt, that there is still a need for further literary inquiry, into the topic of love. Whether that is brought about in terms of prose or poetry, does not really matter.
Many writers, particularly those who write about love, suffer tremendous criticism.
So how are you as a writer, going to deal with criticism and literary criticism?
Be aware of the reality that when you write about anything including love, there will always be those who are extremely jealous of what you are attempting to do. They may criticize you, your work or a project that you undertake, very severely.
Why does this happen?
There are many different reasons. Sometimes, this happens because of professional jealousy. Immature writers may feel that they cannot compete adequately, in the literary arena. They may choose to demean other writers, by the use of criticism. It is easy to brow beat someone and assume the literary throne, by an outright attack on another writer? Better still, how about an assault on someone’s work or proposed literary project?
Recognize the reality that no matter what you choose to write, someone may be able to find something wrong with it. Every single word that you write could be torn apart, chopped up or dissected at sometime, by someone. That is often a negative aspect of the literary world, but it is only one small part of that realm.
Because there are those who know you personally, academically or professionally, your word, deeds and actions will always have to be in perfect sync. In other words what you state, must be comprehended by others, as being in sync with what you do, all of the time. If you plan to write, then you also need to become, as well as be able to demonstrate to the entire world, the reality that you are, or have become the perfect person. Everything that you do and say has to be perfect.
There is only one problem with attempting to do that. There is no prose writer or poet who is a perfect person, or who writes in way that everything can be comprehended perfectly by everyone.
In reality, is it possible to write everything in such a way that everyone’s perception of what you write, say or do, matches their perception of you personally and what you are actually doing, or attempting to do? No. Your words, deeds and actions may not appear to others, as being in sync at all.
Look past this and seek higher ground. There are invariably higher answers to be found.
Love is the highest ideal towards which human beings can strive, but no one achieves that goal perfectly.
Not everyone thinks on the same level, so while you are busy developing something that is good and legitimately valid, even though it may be idealistic like love, be aware that it may not be perceived as such, simply because you cannot be everywhere and do everything for everyone else, all at the same time.
In other words, according to the critic, maybe you really should be doing something else, instead of writing about love. Or perhaps he or she thinks that you need to start all over again, right from the very beginning. This time you can learn something about love from him or her, before writing about it. Maybe your critic thinks he or she is qualified to be your teacher? After all, he or she is the expert on the topic of love. That is not highly likely, in a case like this.
Anything and everything that you are attempting to do, by writing about love, can get wiped out immediately, by a supposed critic. Many writers have burned their own writings, destroyed or discarded them, because of negative, destructive criticisms like this one. Never do that. Your literary work is of tremendous value.
Your work or literary project only gets wiped out, if you willingly submit to having all of your hard efforts erased, by someone who basically cannot do what you are doing, or may not have the insight, foresight or the ability to even attempt to try to do it. Quite often, he or she may not even understand exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish.
The realm of truth is a very high plane for humankind, but truth can be totally subjective at times. What one person perceives is not necessarily what another person sees as truth. Every criticism can be justified in some way by a critic, depending upon the plateau of truth that the person is claiming to stand upon.
“You did not write what I wanted you to write. You did not state what I wanted you to state. You did not do what I wanted, expected, ordered or demanded that you do.” In other words, your actions and words are not in sync, according to the critic.
Or, “You did not agree with my opinion.” How about, “You did something else instead.”
There is freedom of writing in the literary world.
Many of the criticisms that take place in the literary world, come about because there are writers who are still in mental bondage. They cannot allow others the freedom to write freely. Nor can they tolerate any project other than the one which they are focusing on, at that particular time. Perhaps they do not have a project to work on and are frustrated because of that. Maybe they are in a state of temporary writer’s block. Perhaps they are simply ill.
If you plan to write prose about love or love poetry, expect criticism from family, friends, strangers or even those who consider themselves to be your enemies. You may wind up with a few of those over time, because of what you write.
What can you do about it?
Love can reveal the error of their ways to those people and will probably win them over in time.
Use the fuel for the fire that the critic has started, to build your next article about love, or use it as material for you next love poem. Do not stop writing about love or love poetry, simply because someone does not like, commend or approve of your literary work, or your writing project.
Do what you know to be right, at that particular moment in time. That moment will pass very quickly and you may not capture it again.
Love is a very controversial topic and the concept of “God is Love,” is going to trigger criticism and literary criticism, particularly from non-Christians. But love is a universal concept. So are divine love and human love. Prose writers or love poets, can be found in every part of the world. Sometimes, they are forced to go underground by critics.
Consider every criticism of your work as being good for you in the long run, even though it might be shocking and frustrating, because of its non-validity and intense cruelty. Over time, you will learn to look at every criticism realistically, or in its true light. Always consider the source. See criticism and literary criticism, as being something that can help you to write better love poetry, or prose about love.
If your work is criticized, ask yourself, does the literary critic have a legitimate argument? That question might never be answered, in some cases.
Who is the critic? Is he or she someone who is known for his her positive, constructive criticism or merely some unknown writer, who is being negative and destructive? Ask yourself, why this particular person needs to play the role of a critic and affects a criticism of you, your work or your literary project, at this particular time? What does he or she have to gain personally?
In other words, critique the critic.
Be aware that no matter what you write in terms of content, someone may reject it for some reason. That will not always be true of everyone. More than likely, there will be very many people who truly love your prose about love, or your love poetry. Always write with integrity and they will admire and respect you, because of what you write and how you write it.
Rejection of what you write, by a critic, is never sufficient reason to stop writing. Revision with resubmission is always possible, if there is a publication problem. Sometimes, re-writes and resubmissions can be quite profitable at times.
Look at the original criticism discussed in this article, for a second time.
Are these really the words “a critique extraordinaire?” No. Is this a valid criticism of a literary work? No. This actually appears to be more of a personal assault.
When you are attacked personally, recognize that reality for what is actually happening. When there is an attack on your work, see it in that light. If it is an attack on a project that you are working on, recognize it as such.
Always balance the negative criticisms you receive, against the positive ones.
This particular criticism has absolutely nothing to do with anything literary. It is merely a personal attack on the writer.
Learning to deal with criticism is an art. Love will be continually developed as a topic, by myriads of prose writers and love poets, who all live imperfect lives at best.
Does this critic demonstrate that he lives a perfect life? One would have to say, “No!” Does his or her writing demonstrate total and absolute perfection? No. Does this manifest love? No. In fact, there is a total absence of love, in this particular case. Perhaps the critic’s own profile needs to be critiqued. Does he or she write something and then feel remorse? Maybe there is regret on his or her part, but maybe not. Does it really matter?
Love lives on. Love wins, because “God is Love,” so as a writer, keep on writing prose about love and love poetry, regardless of the opposition that you encounter. Know that it will help to make the world a better place, in time.
(1) This statement is credited to an unknown author, in order to protect the identity of the writer.