Thursday, September 12, 2002


The Damage Report: Days of Second Reckoning

I should know better than to go up at Malate when I'm feeling this way about absolutely everything in there.

First up, everything I write is looking so maudlin. Well, not to me, but to everyone else. Maite even told me my work is sickening. And even if I loved Maite to death, the statement makes you feel just a little bit inferior, don't it?

I seem to remember something from [Belle-san's] weblog about constructive criticism. Maybe I should go cut and paste the whole damn article here. I'll ask for permission, but here it is anyway:

Lots and lots of fic thoughts have been buzzing in my brain that are now finally finding release because of my incurable inclination to put off the inevitable (i.e. studying for Professional Responsibility final). The following thoughts are a little chaotic and likely make no sense at all (again due to studying for final), but please bear with me.

Of late, I'm beginning to think that there is no such thing as "constructive criticism." Back in the day when I first started writing (and that, loveys, was a long time ago--I think 'round 1998), there were many people who were willing to read your work and hunker down and give actual, pithy, helpful criticism of it. By "actual" and "pithy," I mean these people--most of whom were fellow authors--went through your work, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, assessing the plot structure, fixing grammar, examining characterization, etc. These people were actually willing to give just more than the typical, "I love your work! It was so [insert favorite adjective here]." This phenomenon, I see, is dying slowly, or perhaps is already extinct.


I think most people--and this is my own humble opinion and I could be (and likely am) completely wrong--are reluctant to give such criticism because they do not feel that they should not dictate to a person on how to write their story. Such criticism may hinder that person's writing style and writing "vision." An author has a particular objective and a particular way of giving vent to and accomplishing that objective. To proffer criticism on characterization and plot would only impede that author's goal. (Of course, the reader/critic's own preferences, such as whether that reader is a firm believer in "canon," are also involved in that initial reluctance.) Thus the reader/critic seems to stay behind the oft-used, trite "criticisms" of "Good job" or "Nice work" or "I like your writing style" because it is safe and neutral. They do not want to initiate an affray, they do not want to offend the writer. But if we readers say nothing about it, how will that writer improve? Do not most writers (or at least those I know of) desire to improve their writing? Aside from the joy of sharing their work with others, I think most writers long to refine their works. Writers want to produce the best work possible, to separate the chaff from the wheat, so to speak. Such a process is a difficult task for a writer because that writer is so involved in her work; it is impossible to separate oneself from her work because there is too much involvement, too much committment. Thus a writer depends on others to read that work and to give an honest assessment of it. But lately, such assessments are rare. Few reader/critics write criticism aside from the above-mentioned (and that's not even criticism, really, it's simply praise).


Of course, praise is indeed sweet, but then one begins to question such praise as being sincere (or at least I do). Praise begins to look a little hollow, a little trite, a little false, when that is all one hears. For me, as long as the criticism isn't too uncivil, I relish it. Fresh eyes, a novel perspective, and a new set of preferences and experiences, are put into play in the process of criticism. And though I may disagree with some of it, it forces me to re-evaluate my work, to "borrow" that reader/critic's eyes and to divorce myself from my writing and honestly improve upon it. It hurts a little to give up or alter a favorite passage, but then oftentimes it results in a much better writing product. And of course, there is always the option of ignoring it.


Or, in the alternative, perhaps reader/critics are becoming lazy. When I wrote criticism, it took me a long time to analyze an author's work, line by line. I no longer have the luxury of critiquing every fic that I happen to read and love. It's a lot easier to give it cursory summaries, a brief one-liner or a short paragraph on its merits.


Of course, I'm not ruling out the possibility that the reader/critic truly enjoys your work and have nothing more to say on the matter. Oftentimes, I'm like that; usually, there are no glaring, erroneous matters within the fic, with the exception of a few grammatical mistakes, so all there is left for me to do is gush, extol, and envy.


I may sound pompous, but I don't mean to be: I simply speak as a reader/critic and writer. It just strikes me that lately, no one seems to be giving criticism--at least the "true" analytical kind--and that, to me, defeats the one of the many purposes of a fanfiction ML.


--snip---

There. And that second paragraph says something completely logical to me, about writers not wanting to give criticism, hard kind, to people because it is safer to say praises. I like criticism, in fact crave it sometimes if for nothing but a good debate but I guess getting your work called sickening hurts. A lot.

>.<

What else, what else. Oh. Have I told anyone yet of how simply physically being around Malateans these days makes me feel inferior, and stifled, and unworthy, to the hundredth degree? No? Oh, there you have it then. The atmosphere is heavy, and weighty, as if I cannot get enough air in my lungs. And I seriously want to run back crying to Candy and Joy and Nikki and have bunwiches and hot chocolate in Dunkin' Donuts Cavite and watch videos at Candy's house. I crave my old life. I crave highschool and its noncomplexity. I can say I miss it now, even if I have said countless times that I'm leaving it, leaving it behind. Forever.

Falling leaves always return to their roots, and I am falling, falling, falling.

Catch me? [You,] [you,] [you,] [you], and [you]?

I miss you guys. Come home.

Darling Chris came in a few minutes after we did, as I was reading the logbook. He hugged me, and I felt so warm and so at peace, and yet so, so sad.

I've been feeling so, so sad lately. I've been crying every hour. It hurts. Deep. It is sadness brought about by people who are as sad as I am, and sadness brought about by my own idiocy. It is sadness brought about by not believing where I have believed once, and truly.

I miss you guys.

Help me believe? [You,] [you,] [you,] [you,] and [you]?

Please come home. Please.

He came in today. He stared right through me. As if I wasn't there. As if I never existed. As if I have never talked with him or laughed with him or cried to him. As if I wasn't there.

And it hurt so much, it hurt so much, and all I could do was bury my eyes in a book and bite back my tears. Bite them back. Don't cry in front of all these strangers. Cry to heaven cry to heaven cry to heaven.

And hope that the angels answer.

So much pain and sadness it's beginning to become hard to bear.

You were right, Mama Nikki. Too much emotional baggage to fit in one suitcase called a heart and you know what'll happen.

I thought I had a heart big enough for all.

I was so wrong.

Guys, come home.

Please.







12:33 AM
will you catch me when I fall? :: |




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