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Re: [BKARTS] craft standards, poor books

Very well said, Lee.

Thelonius Monk put it pretty simply. Something like: people might not get what you're doing. It may take them 20 or 25 years to figure it out, but that's not your problem.

Forget the criticism. Your work is your work. Just do it.


On Jan 1, 2008, at 11:49 AM, The Prints & The Paper wrote:

-----Original Message-----
From: Book_Arts-L [mailto:BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf
Of Kathleen Garness

There are many POVs of course on this, but Kate's comment reminds me
of my days at the Art Institute where the critiques were
unnecessarily blisteringly cruel and unhelpful.

Switching to my own area of experience: writing. I sat through many a
seminar and many an independent workshop where the "critiques" were brutal
and personal. They seemed to be executed with the purpose of elevating the
one critiquing in the eyes of others, while diminishing the individual AND
the work being critiqued.

I finally started my own workshop group - which I carefully called a
"writer's support group." It was attended by mostly professional working
writers in many genres. We had a brief set of rules: The writer would state
the intended market for the work before it was read. The critique would
address the appropriateness for that market, including the organization,
slant, length, and diction of the piece. Any other comments of an editorial
nature were to be helpful and constructive with a view to making the piece
marketable. The author could respond to a direct question, but otherwise
remained silent until the critique had moved around the group, at which
point he/she could make a statement, ask questions, etc. We did not make
personal or judgmental remarks about the work, the topic, or the author.
Since this was an evening meeting, we also had snacks - my feeling being
that people who break bread together are less likely to engage in animosity.

The group functioned for nearly 20 years, with members coming and going and
some present from beginning to end. As well as functioning as a useful
editorial resource (some of us wrote weekly or monthly columns on short
deadlines) it became a true source of support and encouragement (both
personally and professionally) and many of us remain close friends even
though we no longer meet on a regular basis.

I have never understood the vicious critique syndrome, except as it makes
some people feel superior to others. I have seen people run weeping from
such a critique, seen people with real talent give up their ambitions, and
of course have seen others refuse to submit to either the abuse or the
negativity and prevail with great success.

Critiques of any kind should focus on constructive criticism, including
creative ideas on how to deal with inherent problems - not tearing apart a
work in order to destroy it and its creator.


Lee Kirk
Cats are composed of Matter, Anti-Matter, and It Doesn't Matter

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