On critiquing

I still wake up in the middle of the night and jot ideas in to a notebook, only to forget about them later. I have trouble with paperwork, I can’t remember appointments unless I write them in my journal and I still write things on my hands to remember to do them. Despite this general dishevelment, I find myself in a unique position in which I am tasked to critique the creative work of others. This isn’t easy and it’s not something I take lightly. I’m a student, too and I’ve disagreed with my teacher’s opinion of my work in the past, despite having worked with them through the process of realizing an idea. It stings, but it’s necessary to take the hit. I’ve learned this the hard way: Your pieces of work are only small fragments of you, chipped off or squeezed out through strenuous effort that you put out in the world to defend themselves. You, as a person, will always move on.

Being embarrassed is good. You’ll learn how to avoid it in the future.

This text, by writer Elizabeth Hardwick, originally published in Harper’s Magazine in October 1959, really helps me put the meaning of opinion in critique into perspective:

The Decline of Book Reviewing

Also, don’t forget this article, published on Business of Fashion, which applies her queries to our world of fashion and opinion.


aaaaaaaaand I have one more thing for you.

The following is unrelated to Hardwick’s comment on reviewing and the position of those with responsibility, but I like to read it sometimes for encouragement.

The Writer’s Task

By Bernard Malamud

It seems to me that [the writer’s] most important task, no matter what

the current theory of man, or his prevailing mood, is to recapture his image

as human being as each of us in his secret heart knows it to be,

and as history and literature have from the beginning revealed it. At the same

time the writer must imagine a better world for men the while he shows us,

the humanity of man, in reality his greatness, he will, among other things, hold

up the mirror to the mystery of him, in which poetry and possibility live,

though he has endlessly betrayed them. In a sense, the writer in his art,

without directly stating it – though he may preach, his work must not – must remind

man that he has, in his human striving, invented nothing less than freedom;

and if he will devoutly remember this, he will understand the best way to

preserve it, and his own highest value.

I’ve had something such as this in mind, as I wrote, however imperfectly,

my sad and comic tales.

– Address by the Fiction Winner, National Book Awards, New York City, Match 1959 (publishes in Harper’ Magazine 1959)