Have you been following this Samantha Brick nonsense? Just in case you haven’t…
Personally, I think it’s all a bit of a joke – if I was a betting woman, I’d say Ms Brick is a struggling new journalist (with a wonky face… I don’t want to sound bitchy, but come on!) who wants a bit of publicity.
But I’m not here to debate her (the internet has done that admirably already). No, I’m here to ask if we all are a bit of a Samantha Brick at heart.
How many times have you read something when it is obvious the poster thinks their piece is a work of genius? I’m not talking about being proud of something – it goes beyond that – but balls-out ‘this is the best thing you’ll even read and you’d better not disagree with me, or you’re a hater’ stuff.
And how many times have we all posted something up, only to be secretly pissed off at the person who dares to pick up on our foibles? I know I have. My secret vice is Lovecraftian purple prose. I love it. I love writing it, I love reading it… but everyone else outside of the Lovecraft Scene hates it. And probably with good cause – it’s not exactly in vogue right now. But I used to post up my Lovecraftian stuff, waiting for people to be stunned by my masterful use of 20 gajillion adjectives and adverbial phrases, when instead, I was slapped down like a wet kipper. And rightly so (although it doesn’t stop me from indulging in private… oooo, dirty, dirty, dirty! Speak adjectives to me!)
But this also has a more sinister side, because it’s not restricted to people who post their own work up. recently, I’ve come across far more examples of it from people who critique work. People who, rather than wanting to help the writer improve their piece, want to show how special they are by just rewriting the whole damn thing in their style and leaving it at that. No ‘it might help if you thought about doing this’ or, have you thought about approaching it this way?’ and an example of what they mean to illustrate how it might help you – the literary version of redlining in art, if you like – but straight down the middle rewriting whole chapters with no advice whatsoever, just a smug air of ‘see how much better than you I am?’.
I will say, it’s never happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people recently, and it makes my blood boil.
So here’s the bottom line: critiques are supposed to help people. They are not supposed to be an excuse for you to show people how special and wonderful you are.
NB: All ‘you’s are universal, of course. 🙂