Letter to a Critic

I wrote this with a singular person in mind, but I’m sure it applies to many.

Scott McFuckoff

I have no problem if you don’t enjoy my writing. If you find it shallow and undeveloped, that’s your opinion and I’m sure that others feel the same way. No matter what type of constructive criticism you may have, I’m sure you mean no ill will, but I promise you that in this instance, it is only offensive, and here’s why.

I’ll start with one of the thoughts that you made clear many, many times in our discussion. I don’t remember the exact words that you used so all I can do is paraphrase, but you basically said that because I have no experience, I have no merit from where I write. I haven’t tried to kill myself, so my writing isn’t authentically depressed. I’ve never leapt off a bridge head first, so I can’t write as though I have, and I respectfully think that that’s fucking stupid. Saying that I have no experience because I am only 22 is as naïve as if I said that I was as experienced as a ninety-year-old.  I may not be the most experience in the traditional sense because I’m not married, have no kids and have only recently started the work force, but implying that I have no experience or not enough is more insane than a flat-earther playing with a pendulum. Experience is experience. You may have had more time on this mortal plain, but I have had a decent amount too. Everyone has different negative experiences, everyone responds to them differently and diminishing someone’s experiences because they’re not yours or because you view them as not valid is the same reason that I write. To help show people that no matter what causes them to feel how they do, it matters, they matter, and people care. If it’s as simple as spraining your toe or downing an entire bottle of Advil, it matters.

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Now, I know your intention in the discussion was nothing negative, but it was not a discussion or debate, it was one person telling another that unless their writing has more depth, it wasn’t good. To me, that was not constructive, it felt malicious. My style may not be yours and that’s fine. I hate a lot of writing styles from writers that I respect, but I won’t tell them that their writing is underdeveloped or inexperienced. I will tell them that they’re doing a great job, extending to a certain audience and that they should keep trying to improve their own abilities.

You don’t need to love my writing. You don’t even need to like it or read it. I’m sure that if you are reading this, you think I’m overreacting for not taking the advice that you’ve imposed, or that my naivety and immaturity is responding to criticism poorly. I assure you that it’s not that. I’m okay with criticism. I seek it out. I want to know what people think and how I can get better, but there is an incredible difference in constructive criticism and questioning a writer’s integrity.

Define Arrogance

Scott McNarcissist

closeup photo of galapagos tortoise
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Is arrogance thinking that you’re better than someone else? Is it thinking that you’re better at something than the next person? Is it acknowledging that you truly are better than others?

Arrogance. Narcissism. Egotism. They’re odd. Everyone knows someone that they see as one of these terms. Someone who thinks the world revolves around them. Someone whose presence annoys you to your very core. But what is it really?

It’s a question that more people should think about. I don’t think arrogance is inherently bad. It’s possible to be aware that you are better than someone in some ways, but not think that you are better than them. There’s a fine line that takes arrogance from a nuisance, and that line is ignorance.

Arrogance and ignorance. Words that resonate similarly. They should be synonymous with one another but they’re often viewed as different. Most think that arrogant people are ignorant. In reality, it’s the ignorant that are arrogant.

Someone who is arrogant and not ignorant sees their strengths, understands how they are better than others and uses that knowledge to advance themselves and the ones around them. Someone who is ignorant sees their traits, has convinced themselves that they’re better than everyone else, with or without proof, and tries to keep those around them back. The difference is intention; intention that can turn someone from helpful to hurtful.

No one should be ashamed of a skill that they possess. A unique thought that they have had. Unrestrained ambition that puts them above someone else. Being better is never a bad thing as long it is coated in modesty. Being better is only bad when it’s used to tell others that they aren’t.