Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about critiques lately. That's probably because I am currently on both sides, giving and receiving critiques. There is a lot of angst on both sides of this equation. I've been in workshops where an offended author gets tongues wagging by overreacting to a critique, and I've been at workshops where heavy-handed critics create lifelong hatreds. I truly believe that there has to be a more productive way to give and get honest feedback. I'm on a quest to find that better way--researching the psychology behind critiques. If you've been involved in any kind of critique situation, you know that sometimes you can feel like you're in a tamer version of the Standford Prison Experiment --giving one group of students authority over their peers.

I'll let you know what I discover about giving and getting critiques. For now, I've decided I will be reading this poem before every critique I sit down to write.

"The Man In The Arena"

Speech at the Sorbonne
Paris, France
April 23, 1910
The Famous Quote

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Read the full speech by Theodore Roosevelt here.

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