On taking criticism

My professor said some really inappropriate things to me. Nothing sexual. I’m a girl, he’s a gay man, so there you have it. I asked him for help on a novel I’ve been working on for over a year now, and instead of constructive criticism, this is what he had to say:

“Your novel sounds awful.”

“I didn’t attack you for your earnestness. I don’t see how I attacked you at all. I merely pointed out your laziness, lack of politics, wrong usages and gave you some of my opinions on things you were doing.”

“You clearly have a problem taking criticism. Please write to someone else who tells you what you want to hear.”

No one, not even my other professors who used to teach me have been so harsh.

I mean, I just asked for help and criticism, and found myself attacked for my earnestness, I feel so discouraged and unable to write, like something is eating away from within and it isn’t just about this vitriolic man. It’s a general feeling of utter and complete worthlessness. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t.

In the event that you decide to answer this question, just remove the quotes please? I’m afraid someone might find out and identify me.

For the sake of brevity, I removed all but three quotes. Relax. No one is going to identify you, because no one gives a shit.

That’s actually your fundamental problem. You think people give a shit about you. They don’t. No one does. They never will, and you need to get used to it. As a writer, you are alone in this world. Not only are you alone, but odds are, your novel really is awful. If you can’t handle that brutal truth, then by all means, give up now and go try your hand at cupcakery or (god forbid) advertising.

Nothing your professor said to you was inappropriate. Clearly, he doesn’t respect you, but a lack of respect isn’t an attack. He didn’t attack you, not once, and certainly not for your earnestness. Fuck your earnestness. At your age, earnestness is indistinguishable from naivet√©.

If you can’t go on like this, then don’t. The world is full of would-be novelists. If this one asshole is all it takes to discourage you, then fuck off. You aren’t strong enough to be a writer, and you don’t deserve to be one.


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