The X-Factor

Imagine this hypothetical scenario (and it’s SO unlikely, that’s all it will ever be):

Holly (trying to imitate Christina Aguilera, but sounding more like a constipated budgie): #You are beautiful, no matter what they say. Words can’t bring you down…#
Simon Cowell (one eyebrow raised): “STOP! That was terrible. Who told you that you could sing?”
Holly (pouting and on the verge of tears): “Well…my family and friends said I could sing, and that I could make a living as a singer. They always say they enjoy it…”
Simon: “They’ve done you no favours. You’re deluding yourself. Go away and do something else.”

Do you see what I did there? I’m trying to explain how that ‘review’ made me feel. Basically, the fact that it used the words ‘badly written’ suggested that the book was terrible, and that all the great comments I had were purely kind words to bolster my confidence. Just like the words some of the families of X-Factor auditionees must have used to encourage their children to pursue a dream (even if said auditionees are not musically inclined or gifted… ) Undue praise is sweet, but misguided – I respect Simon Cowell for his honesty, and also anyone who is brave enough to offer criticism, despite the fact it may offend.

Consider this, though: if you just tell a child that they are “bad”, then that child will not understand why they are bad, or what they did that was wrong – how could a child learn from this? In the same way, if you tell a writer that they are bad, but do not elaborate or offer suggestions as to how they can improve their writing, then what is the point of making a public critique of their work?

Anyway, I’m feeling much better now, thanks to all the kind comments and pep talks I’ve been sent! Oh, and a new hair colour too (I’m like a chameleon, changing colour when threatened). Also found out that the thing at Borders on Tuesday is far less formal than I’d anticipated. It takes place in Starbucks, and is basically a chat over a coffee – that’s why the numbers were limited, I guess. I’m going out on a limb and thinking that the weather will put off some people, so if you’re attending, you may find there’s just the two of us, chatting about the aforementioned weather! Don’t be put off if you haven’t booked but still want to come along – I’m sure we can find an extra chair or two!