I got an email recently from Jennifer, who was in our alma mater’s writing program when we went to school together. In it she asked me how I was liking grad school and if the criticism aspect ever got to me. As I wrote her back, I thought, man, I should put this up on the blog, so here it is:
I’m totally stressed out with school right now—it’s the last four or so weeks of the semester so everything is raining down on me right now. I actually really enjoy the criticism. Does that sound crazy? I mean, it’s constructive criticism, for the most part, and once I got to a place where I knew my professors and fellow students (a) respected my talents and (b) wanted me to succeed, it did become easier to let my work be read and then sit there and listen to a bunch of people pick it apart. That didn’t happen instantaneously though—last semester was especially difficult, and there is a squirm factor that still exists. However, I’m not going into an insane amount of debt just so people can pat me on the head and tell me what a good job I’m doing. If I’m going to let people in enough to critique my writing, I damn-well want an honest critique. I understand that can come at a price and that some instructors/students use that as an excuse to tear others down, but luckily I haven’t had that experience here.