Dealing With Praise and Criticism

Originally Posted: November 25, 2011

So, a lot of people have been asking how I feel about the dubious honor of being nominated for the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex” awards…

Although not truly among my life’s cheif ambitions, who wouldn’t feel honored to be in such company–David Guterson, Haruki Murakami, Stephen King (past nominees include Updike, Marquez, Allende, Roth and Franzen)… Makes one sort of pine to be included every year.

I do find it curious that my own ‘bad sex’ passage is the same one that Literary Review writer Jonathan Barnes dubbed ‘exemplary sex’ in his August 2011 reveiw of Outside the Ordinary World… Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Exemplary, or bad?  Does this confusion mirror a kind of schism in the British/American psyche around sex itself? Or maybe mine was simply one in a tiny number of novels by women to even show up on Literary Review’s radar this year… Hard to say.

Either way, I love the contradiction implied here.  That one LRreveiwer deems ‘exemplary’ what the other LR reviewer dubs as ‘bad’ truly highlights the radical subjectiity of this business. And also the author’s imperative to dismiss both praise and censure, which are equally irrelevant to the task at hand.

Writing with an eye toward avoiding all criticism (even public humiliation) or garnering praise, you will risk losing your way completely.  At the end of the day, what others say about your work must take a distant back seat to the desire and vision that brought you to the table in the first place.

And as with everything, it helps to have a sense of humor.

Posted by: Dori

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