08 February 2009

Critique

I hate to be criticized. Ha-aa-aaa-te.

If you say anything about me, even hint that you aren't perfectly delighted with me in any way, I may not say anything, but I will be hurt to the core.


That's the bad news. The good news is that I am a thousand times better than I used to be.

Back in the day, I would have cut you.

If someone criticized me, there were repercussions. They might never find out about them. They would just find themselves inconvenienced in some way...something would not work out how they had planned. When they least expect it, they should have been expecting it.

Because that's how I rolled. Like a cat that you leave outside all night and who pooped in your shoes six weeks later.

It wasn't effective, or mature, or helpful. But I figured that I was playing my part in passing the karma around.

What helped me?

Newspapering.

You can't be too thin-skinned as a journalist, because someone is always all up in your bizness.

If it isn't your sources complaining about how you wrote the story, it is some freaking reader complaining that you have a liberal/conservative/anti-City Hall/anti-citizen/anti-business/anti-Ron Paul bias.

And if they are all happy, your editors are busting your chops about something.

I remember one day in a crowded, busy newsroom. Doug the copy editor's voice rang out above the din.

"DAVIS!!"

He then held his arm straight out, pointed at me, brought his arm up at the elbow to a 90 degree angle, and gave two sharp "come here" waves of his hand, so that anyone had missed the yell could clearly see the sign language.

I scampered over to his desk like a timid little mouse.

"What is this "On the corner of Main and Fifth Streets?"" he barked.

"Um, the protestors were on the corner..."

"If something is at Main and Fifth it is not necessary to point out that it is on the corner," he said. "Those are three wasted words."

"Yes, Doug," I admitted. "You're right."

Chops. Busted. Again. Lesson learned. Another one. Ihave never again said in a newspaper story "on the corner".

And I didn't even poop in his shoes.

9 comments:

Mayberry said...

I once got in an extended argument with a copy editor over the use of the word "Velcro," which she wanted to change to "touch fastener." In a direct quote! Who says "touch fastener" when they mean freaking Velcro?!

I wish I'd thought of the shoe thing at the time.

Mignon said...

As a writer, I disagree with Doug. If you'd said "at Main and 5th," your mind tries to conjure a map with N/S/E/W and you don't get a clear picture of the scene. However, if you say "on the corner" the scene has a pinpointed location, and your mind doesn't wander as you continue to read... but all that is irrelevant, huh? Because that's not really what your post was about.

Yeah, I'd have trouble going for beers after work with Doug, too.

Staci said...

Writing in general is definitely a toughening up experience! I don't like to be criticized either and I'm not above pooping in somebody's shoes if that's what it takes.

meno said...

It's not too late for the shoe pooping.

mar said...

i need to learn to have thicker skin myself. it's part of why i haven't submitted my book to more than one agency thus far...

Deb on the Rocks said...

I'm all about the Kill Bill style of revenge. It's never too late or never too brutal to get even.

I like the idea of being active in the Karma loop, too, but I have been working on it.

super des said...

It could have been *near* the corner, but you cleared that up.

I say poop in his shoes.

QT said...

You can't be too thin-skinned as a journalist, because someone is always all up in your bizness.

Truer words have never been spoken.

Suzanne said...

I'm with mignon - I think saying corner is relevant.

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