Don armour at your own peril

I get to hear such unspeakable things in my day-to-day wandering through the labyrinth of triviality. And today I heard what amounted to being gagged in a chair: A writer needs thick skin when it comes to reviews.

Who needs the hide of a pachyderm, such thick skin? Is this a condition you must accept if you decide to write, Like a sick man the bitter pill of recovery?

Smells a lot like dogma to me. I bring it up because I know of a particular individual, although “individual” may be too much of a kindness, who whenever a discussion of a writer and reviews comes about immediately pulls out his gospel according to and resolutely and without a dust mote of doubt sanctimoniously declares without hesitation, as if it were his domain alone, that no hard skin, no writer.

What absolute twaddle. Am I wrong, or isn’t a writer in need of sensitivity otherwise all a reader would get would be books of fucking facts?

Maybe it’s a case of semantics, but it’s not a hard skin to criticism that’s needed, it’s a unwavering faith in you work that is not brought about by having thick skin but from having deaf ears or ears for only that which applies.

What I object to more than anything is how easily such a person is able to condemn. And it says more to me about that person than his general theory of absolute. Who makes these people the mouthpieces for art? Makes them the holy shrine where all us other poor sods must drink to gain fresh insight?

It’s true that as a writer you have to be able to handle the criticism that bites where it hurts most, but not by cultivating a tough skin. The body is not a shield where emotions get to hide. Sometimes a criticism is going to fucking hurt, hurt bad, but what needs to be done is not show that it has affected you. Or maybe it’s better not even to read a review of your work, good or bad. I’ve read that a lot of writers do this. And I’ve also read of a lot of writers who have been broken by reviews of their work and carry it around with them. Should I or anyone else condemn them for being so human and not this amazing thick skinned mutant?

Of course my time for having a review of my work has not jet arrived. But I like to think I won’t need this person’s “thick skin” but come up with my own discipline.

Because we all have to have our own personal ideals. If we don’t other people will fabricate them for us.

I just can’t accept that there is only one way to deal with reviews as a writer and that’s to have a thick skin. That’s like saying the only way to deal with life is to have science or religion or intellect of imagination or intuition or philosophy. All are needed to be human. And a writer isn’t a writer first he’s a human being.

So it’s no thick skin for me and no damnation and absolutely no rigid thinking or monolithic truths from the mouths of the so-called “chosen.”


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