Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Better Way Of Telling The Truth

Sue Sinclair, CWILA's first resident critic, hopes to refocus the discussion of criticism:
I see the critic as someone who serves both past readers of the work and its possible future readers, as well as the writer. In a sense the critic also serves the artwork in that she takes up its invitation, engages with it. But it’s the writer I’d like to focus on for a moment. Some people think that the critic is not there to serve the writer in any capacity. But given that the writer, if he reads a review of his work, will likely be more affected by it than anyone else, I think it behooves the reviewer to consider the effect she may have on him. Some think that the writer is best served in just the way that the reader is: by the critic’s truthful response. I agree. But there are different ways of telling the truth: it can be done indifferently, it can be done as a slap in the face, or it can be done kindly and with a—perhaps implicit—acknowledgement of the effort that every writer brings to their work. My experience is that the first two approaches can hamper or harm the writer and that the last one can help the writer to rise to the difficult occasion of public criticism. Not everyone thinks that truthfulness and kindness can coexist. Creating the space in which they can coexist is difficult, but I’ve seen it done. And I’m up for the challenge. It’s worth taking on.

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