Thick Skinned or Standing Firm?

With the approaching launch of my novel, I have read numerous blogs and articles about book reviews. Even  the most intriguing and well-written stories receive some bad reviews, and my work will be no exception. I think I'm mentally and emotionally ready. I think.

Stories, like art, are subjective, liked or disliked based on the viewer/reader's preferences. Does a bad review mean it is a bad story? Not necessarily, and then, maybe.

As with all criticism, the comment must be evaluated. Does it have merit? Would it improve the art to accept the suggestion? Or, is it only a personal opinion that doesn't bear any true relation to the quality of the art?

Back when I did commercial art, I developed a fairly thick skin in regards to critique. Some people felt I painted too tight (too much detail), others felt it was too loose (not enough detail) Others found fault with the subject matter. In the end I let those comments wash over me. They had nothing to do with the artistic nature of my work. They were personal preferences.

However, if someone commented that the barn was out of perspective compared to the rest of the painting, or the nose on the tiger was too large for its face, then those were indeed errors that needed to be corrected. Ignoring those meant I missed a chance to grow and improve as an artist. It will be the same with the novel.

This also bleeds into other areas of my life. We all receive criticism and need to discern which we need to listen to and which we should let run off our backs.  Sometimes we become thick skinned from ego, believing we are right and everyone else is wrong. Not exactly what the Christian viewpoint should be.

On the other hand, standing firm on Christ's principles is another matter. Being thick skinned to atheist detractors keeps us centered, looking to God for direction and confirmation instead of misaligned world views.

It isn't always easy to discern the criticism. Sometimes it is hard to ignore snide comments and hurtful words, especially if it comes from those we love and trust. I admit, I am a perfectionist and criticism is hard. I want to fix everything so everyone will be happy, until it comes to my basic principles, whether it be art, writing or beliefs. And then, I put on the thick armor (skin) of faith and stand firm.

I know putting my work out for public view and scrutiny will be a severe test of my sense of value and worth. I pray I can keep it balanced with my faith. The rest is just opinion.


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