Monday, August 07, 2006

Reviews and Rejections? "Fffft" on That!

I've been reading Anna Deavere Smith's Letters to a Young Artist. So inspirational for creative folk. Pick it up!

I thought about how rejections and negative critiques and reviews can be so hurtful to our creative psyche. I once asked a well-known symphony chorus conductor how he felt about reviews and how he dealt with negative ones. He raised an eyebrow, looked at me and grimaced. "Fffft!" he practically hissed in disgust. "I don't. I just can't pay attention to them. I think about how I discuss and disagree with my colleagues. Imagine if we were writing the review--you'd have one person who loved it and another who hated it. It is too subjective. It is also scary that one person can wield that much power." I agreed.

As a writer, I deal with rejection letters and that constant nagging "Oh I measure up?" little voice in my head sometimes too. As art quilters, we deal with those same things, just like any other creative type: rejections from shows, envy, self-doubt, fear. It's how we actually cope with this that makes all the difference.


Karoda said...

Elle, thanks for the recommendation of this book. also, I shared your podcast link with Valerie White yesterday. I thought she would get a kick out of it. :)

Susan said...

Thoughts on this: Is a letter of rejection the same as being rejected? I know I talked with children's book writer Jack Gantos. He told the story of his first book - rejected because he had great pictures, but nothing really happened in the book. He went back and wrote another, rejected because not enough happened in the book.

Those rejections led him to create a wonderful character who does all kinds of things and the series of books he wrote have probably made him a tidy sum, though that doesn't pay as well as some kinds of writing.

Maybe we have to look at the positive side of adversity and letters of rejection. Do they make us a better person? Some people get the letters for an excellent book, and keep shopping for a publisher, eventually getting it into print.

I guess there's no one right answer about this issue - in art and quilting, I would look at it a bit differently, since art really is in the eyes of the beholder. If your art, your quilt, your music, your words, touch emotion in someone, then it's successful, no matter what the critics say. And maybe the someone is you.