Everybody’s a Critic

I have begun to notice how much people demand to be entertained. The arts are no longer a means of expression, but of immediate capitalistic gratification. Think of the blockbuster films that contract sequel and sequel even though they have no real substance, while the more creative films/tv shows gets canceled.

I used to work with teenagers, and they consistently shocked me with their closed-mindedness. Anything outside of their experience or slightly different from their limited personal preference was labeled as “trash.” No thought was given to the message the singer was trying to communicate, or the musical ability. And tragically, for the most part, their tastes coincided with that of popular media. I wouldn’t have minded if I had thought they had sampled al the genres of music with a respectful, open mind and settled on their favorite.

What does this have to do with writing? I have found that the average reader is very critical. They demand to be entertained. There is little tolerance for the development process that a writer has to go through. That’s why (as I mentioned in an earlier post) when my friend read my writing in high school he made fun of it. He immediately compared it to the literature that he had been exposed to. Of course it fell short. The general masses have extremely high standards. In one sense I don’t blame them. Think of the mass of quality art they have access to: hundreds of years of the best of painters, writers, actors, singers, musicians, etc. But they don’t realize how much work it can take to be good. Granted, there are the Mozart’s, S.E. Hinton’s, and August Rush’s out there. But the rest of us have to work our way to greatness.

I have heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery. In fact, there are studies that show no natural talent can replace such an immense amount of experience. The problem is there are loads of critics ready to shoot you down before you make it very far. Now, some people might say this isn’t a problem at all. The criticism weeds out the weak and allows those who persevere to become exceptional. Maybe there’s some validity to that. But I wince at some of the comments I received (and still receive) from family and friends about my writing. I wish our country fostered the arts more instead of just funding a flash and glam market.

In general I think most people have become too apt to crush each other’s dreams. What’s up with that? Why are we so quick to make dry, critical comments, or to point out the “realistic”?

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