PDA

View Full Version : What's the worst comment you've had to overcome?



PsychicToaster
07-28-2010, 10:40 PM
What's the worst thing someone has ever said about your writing, or your aspirations as a writer that you've had to overcome?

Here's mine:

A friend of a friend who had not read a word I had written dismissed me as a failure just because they don't personally know anyone who has been successful. Finally, they closed with: "It will taken as a sign of maturity when you realize your book will never be published."

Amadan
07-28-2010, 10:52 PM
Why would you even care about the opinion of someone who dismisses the possibility of being published without even reading anything you've written?

Said The Sun
07-28-2010, 10:54 PM
"You're really not that cute."
I'm still overcoming this one.

Parametric
07-28-2010, 10:55 PM
"Physically painful to read". :tongue

PsychicToaster
07-28-2010, 11:06 PM
Why would you even care about the opinion of someone who dismisses the possibility of being published without even reading anything you've written?

Oh, I had dismissed it as laughable in short order. But the one thing to realize is that when someone directs something deliberately hurtful at you personally, there is at least a time (however brief) where the lizard brain kicks in and short circuits your rational thinking.

I can't really put the constructive criticism I've received in this category since all of my truly scathing reviews were at my request.

Wayne K
07-28-2010, 11:09 PM
"This stinks"

I'm quoting myself, but not kidding. The reason it was hard to overcome is because it was true and required a lot of work to fix.

PsychicToaster
07-28-2010, 11:11 PM
"This stinks"

I'm quoting myself, but not kidding. The reason it was hard to overcome is because it was true and required a lot of work to fix.

Been there!

Nothing like getting 20 pages done in a day and realizing that the next morning you're just going to highlight + delete it all.

vfury
07-29-2010, 02:40 PM
"That's... nice."

I got over it. :tongue

Maryn
07-29-2010, 05:18 PM
"Why would you want to tell this story? It's degrading and disgusting."

I'm gonna kill that woman if I ever see her again. Of all the comments in the question-and-answer period after my one-act play was performed, hers is the only one I remember.

Maryn, holding a grudge

Phaeal
07-29-2010, 06:44 PM
"You'll never sell anything. Hey, you must like books if you write. Why don't you become a librarian?"

This from someone who never read a word of my writing. I guess she could tell by looking at me that I couldn't sell anything. And though I would never sell anything, because I was a writer, she insisted on me critting her truly bad poetry. Well, not critting. Had I pointed out the utter lack of scansion, clunky rhymes and third grade sentimentality, she would have run through our workplace calling me a monster. I was too smart for that -- I just murmured "Oh, nice" and backed off slowly.

Then there was the implied insult to librarians. Like, anyone could just walk in the library door and get a job. Like librarians didn't have any special training or skills. Nope, they just liked books.

We all got over her when she left our office. Many of us still wake up sweating from dreams that she has returned. I channel all these experiences into my horror writing, so hey, something good came of it. ;)

Cella
07-29-2010, 07:03 PM
"Maybe if you weren't such a pansey you might get somwhere."

MsJudy
07-29-2010, 08:03 PM
I can't quite remember what it was he said, but...

When I was in my early 20s, I was in one of those relationships you should get out of but can't...

I put up with a lot of on-again, off-again, control-freak shit for 2 years. But when he told me something about how I only thought my writing was important, but it really wasn't...

I finally realized I was done. Packed my bags and left.

Miss Plum
07-29-2010, 08:10 PM
If an agent says anything along the lines of "It just didn't grab me" or "I'm not feeling the magic," I feel a big cold emptiness in my stomach. It scares me when people says my work bores them.

PsychicToaster
07-29-2010, 09:10 PM
If an agent says anything along the lines of "It just didn't grab me" or "I'm not feeling the magic," I feel a big cold emptiness in my stomach. It scares me when people says my work bores them.

Sometimes it's not about your writing, but the reader's mindset the day they picked it up. You never know what will hook a specific person, and there's only so many words you can squeeze into those first pages.

Some people just aren't interested, and won't be even if you were the Greatest Writer Ever. But the right people will be more interested in your work than you are. You're not trying to impress the people you'll never reach; you're trying to find one of those others. :)

Drachen Jager
07-29-2010, 11:40 PM
If an agent says anything along the lines of "It just didn't grab me" or "I'm not feeling the magic," I feel a big cold emptiness in my stomach. It scares me when people says my work bores them.

Those aren't comments on your work. They're standard Agent-speak weasel words for, "I don't think I want to/can sell this". They are not meant to be applied literally.

gothicangel
07-29-2010, 11:41 PM
A bad beta told me 'if this kind of crap gets published, then I don't want to be published.'

The funny thing was at the same time I had interest from two of the top UK agents. :D

orion_mk3
07-30-2010, 12:35 AM
"Not as clever as it thinks it is."

I had a really flighty, bohemian creative writing teacher for an upper-division creative writing course. She was fond of unsubtly dropping the fact that one of her stories had been nominated for a Pushcart, and gave the above criticism just before suggesting I had lifted ideas from Nabokov (who at that time I'd never read).

The worst part was that I had been so excited about the assignment that I'd done it twice and written two stories and asked her to choose which should be submitted. Getting no response, I chose my favorite, only to have her profess liking the other one better after delivering the aforementioned critique. Adding insult to injury was the rapturous critique given the next story in line, which hadn't even been finished.

I didn't write anything for almost a year after that, and switched from a creative writing to a literature major.

dgrintalis
07-30-2010, 12:50 AM
I had an agent reject the full with this: "...I like the story here, but I wasn't as blown away by the writing. And for me, I only get really excited about prose that sparkles." Talk about a punch to the stomach, especially when I'd been hearing the total opposite. At that point, I'd had 2 other rejections because of the story itself, but both of those agents raved about my writing and either wanted to see revised versions of Ink or other work.

I will admit, even though I know tastes are subjective, it took me a while to get over that rejection. It hurt like hell.




ETA: I ended up with 4 offers of rep for Ink so rationally, I know it was a taste thing, but even with just rereading that email so I could quote it properly, it still stings. Blech. And yes, I could delete the email, but I can't delete the contents from my head or my heart.

scarletpeaches
07-30-2010, 12:52 AM
"There's not enough conflict and nothing to hook the reader," damn near gave me a nervous breakdown, especially as it's one of my best books.

Another editor requested the full within 24 hours.

Kendare Blake
07-30-2010, 01:26 AM
Not exactly the worst comment, but someone once said,

"Oh, you've got an agent? Wow, it must be a whole lot easier to get an agent in the United States."

I almost had to throw down in the middle of a cocktail party...

Ineti
07-30-2010, 01:36 AM
The best "worst" review I got was: "An OK story, but a little pointless."

Still get a laugh out of it. :)

Miss Plum
07-30-2010, 02:33 AM
I had an agent reject the full with this: "...I like the story here, but I wasn't as blown away by the writing. And for me, I only get really excited about prose that sparkles." Talk about a punch to the stomach

. . .

it took me a while to get over that rejection. It hurt like hell.

That's what I mean! It's those ones that say your work had no impact because there's something fundamentally inferior about your writing or your concept! Ugh, bleah bleyeach.



"There's not enough conflict and nothing to hook the reader," damn near gave me a nervous breakdown
And another! There are a million critiques I'd rather hear than "no hook."

scarletpeaches
07-30-2010, 02:35 AM
I think I took it personally because I absolutely believe the book in question (which I could hear about any day now) is one of my best pieces of writing. "It didn't grab me," would have been fine. It shows it's one person's opinion. But to be told there was nothing to hook the reader is a claim to speak for all readers. It's an absolute.

But what can you do? I sent it out to someone else, even while I was still crying.

mario_c
07-30-2010, 08:12 AM
Ever been laughed out of the room on a pitch? Standing in front of hundreds of writers as a producer yells, "Did anyone understand what the hell he is saying?"
Didn't think so.

MissMacchiato
07-30-2010, 08:27 AM
I know this is another silly one, but the biggest one, the one I have had to work really hard to overcome, was basically giving myself permission to even try this as a job.

Someone I think of as eminently sensible and rational told me how hard it is to get published, how little money you would make even if successful, and knowing that she has a point made me afraid to try.

But you know what? I don't have to do this as a job one day, I just want to prove that I can do it, that I can finish it. And if even one person enjoys reading my stuff, even if it's just a friend, well, then, all the time I spent writing it, enjoying it will have been worth it.

Guardian
07-30-2010, 08:42 AM
"um. ew."

CheekyWench
07-30-2010, 08:57 AM
It wasn't the comment but the non-comments.. I told my family I was going to write for publication and they totally blew it off as a whim.. yeah yeah, we hear you :head pat:
After a year of busting ass, I get two offers in two weeks for two books and suddenly, they wake up.

Now they're pretty big cheerleaders but it still stings that they had little faith.

PsychicToaster
07-30-2010, 04:58 PM
It wasn't the comment but the non-comments.. I told my family I was going to write for publication and they totally blew it off as a whim.. yeah yeah, we hear you :head pat:
After a year of busting ass, I get two offers in two weeks for two books and suddenly, they wake up.

Now they're pretty big cheerleaders but it still stings that they had little faith.

Ug. You've reminded me of another. "I'm proud of you!" When it comes too late after the fact, it really translates as "I didn't think someone like you could do that!"

DeleyanLee
07-30-2010, 05:13 PM
"You masterbated all over these pages and I was ashamed to read it." (It was a Fantasy novel with one kiss in it--that beta had serious problems)

My favorite slam to my writing came from my father: "Real people don't get published." He still maintains that as true. When I was published back in 1999, the copy I gave to my folks was enscribed: "With much love for all your undying support to your unreal daughter". My dad got the sarcasm and apologized.

stormie
07-30-2010, 05:52 PM
A friend read a poem of mine and laughed. Not because it was humorous, but because she thought it stunk.
I submitted it to a contest anyway.

It beat out 100 or so other poems as being "the most funny."

It's all subjective.

triceretops
07-31-2010, 06:01 AM
My BIL telling me I'm piddling around at the computer like a deadbeat.

But now...I just made 190 bucks in four days selling articles.

Tri

Cranky
07-31-2010, 06:10 AM
"But." (As in, "I liked this, but..." )

Such a small word, but it weighs as much as a fully loaded freight train.

Tegwin
08-02-2010, 07:03 AM
These are incredibly inspiring and it's good to know I'm not the only one out there facing these sorts of things.

Worst comment I received was lately, from within my family. My father told me, "When you're done following that little pipe dream of yours (in reference to my current trek through the querying process) and fail, then you can finally take that course in aircraft sheet metal repair and make a real career for yourself."

Makes me all the more determined to succeed at this.

Guardian
08-02-2010, 07:18 AM
Aircraft sheet metal repair? Dude my brother would love that. (The comment to you was rude, but just saying the course sounds cool, otherwise.)

Miss Plum
08-02-2010, 11:08 AM
Aircraft sheet metal repair? Dude my brother would love that. (The comment to you was rude, but just saying the course sounds cool, otherwise.)
You beat me to it. Aircraft sheet metal repair, you say. How could I get into that?

~starving writer

BlueWolf
08-02-2010, 02:53 PM
My worst, was ironically one of my best.
I was told that my book was good, and had potential, but due to the genre and the state of the industry at the moment, I was essentially wasting my time.

Go figure.

regdog
08-02-2010, 03:12 PM
From a well meaning but clueless relative, "It's about time you got going with your writing and got published.":Wha:

ejaycee
08-02-2010, 03:24 PM
"Yes. Well."

Two of the most horrible words in the English language when put together in that way with that tone. I was ten, too. Talk about a downer. :(

But I got over it. :D

AngelaA
08-02-2010, 03:33 PM
I don't understand...

stormie
08-02-2010, 04:46 PM
"But." (As in, "I liked this, but..." )

Such a small word, but it weighs as much as a fully loaded freight train.
Yes! I'd be rich if I got a dollar for all the times I heard this or read it. A powerful word. In many cases, too powerful.

kaitiepaige17
08-02-2010, 04:51 PM
When I had a partial out the receipt card (or whatever that thing is) came in the mail and my mother found it. I purposefully didn't tell her I had a partial out because I didn't want her to know about my MS unless I found an agent. When I told her what it was she gave me one of her fake smiles and blew it off. I didn't land an agent, so I guess she got the last laugh.

Miss Plum
08-02-2010, 09:01 PM
. . . I didn't land an agent, so I guess she got the last laugh.
Arrrrrgggghhh. This is one of the things I dread. I've got the relatives who keep rolling their eyes. Some day they're gonna get the last laugh as crazy Aunt Hebediah Plum finally hears from that fancy city publisher that she's no good. Dread, dread, dreading it.

Amadan
08-02-2010, 10:09 PM
Arrrrrgggghhh. This is one of the things I dread. I've got the relatives who keep rolling their eyes. Some day they're gonna get the last laugh as crazy Aunt Hebediah Plum finally hears from that fancy city publisher that she's no good. Dread, dread, dreading it.

Don't tell unsupportive people what you're doing. Definitely don't give them a running tally of your rejections.

Calla Lily
08-02-2010, 11:15 PM
From Mr. Lily, after 3.5 years of actively working to get an agent: "Maybe you're just not good enough to get published."

Punch. In. The. Gut.

To be fair, 6 months later when I called him in hysterics after The Agent called me to tell him I had a 3-book deal, he was thrilled and went out and bought me roses. :)

Non-writers simply don't understand the process.

scarletpeaches
08-03-2010, 01:02 AM
An ex-friend's boyfriend (at the time) said a few years back, "If you were any good you'd be published by now."

Kaiser-Kun
08-03-2010, 01:38 AM
A former friend of mine took it upon herself to select the most hideous chapter of my then horrible stories, post it without my permission in her website, and then insert her wannabe-snarky comments, which were vile and awful at best, between paragraphs. Among my favorite pieces were:

"This is bullshit, nobody can feel two feelings at once."
"Oh, so he can console others, is he a Dr. Heart?"

And of course... "I'll hadmit hes gotten better and doesnt makes so many typos" (sic)

For some strange laser-guided karmic retribution several years later, she completely retired her site from the web, deciding she was a terrible writer.

StoryG27
08-03-2010, 01:48 AM
"You masterbated all over these pages and I was ashamed to read it." (It was a Fantasy novel with one kiss in it--that beta had serious problems)
:Wha:

I've had only a select few betas and all their comments, even if negative, have been for my benefit. I've never had to deal with a remark like that.


I have had an agent tell me my main character was a bitch (the agent was right). I had an agent tell me she went back and forth on the idea of representing me and decided not to (not bad, but this stung the most). I was told that my books didn't follow the proper formula. (I didn't know there was one, honest.)

An ex-friend's boyfriend (at the time) said a few years back, "If you were any good you'd be published by now."
I say this to myself. . .all the time.

Summonere
08-03-2010, 01:51 AM
Mike McQuay once said something like this about my work:

"This reminds me a lot of my writing, only mine's a lot better."

I was taking a class from him at the local university because he was the local successful author (well, one of them), and one of my high school instructors said I should take the opportunity. The semester assignment had been to write a novel, and to show him first draft material as we produced it. He was reacting to chapter one. (In case you're wondering, yes, it was crap. Lesson: never show anyone your first draft. That's for you and you alone. Show your work to others after you've made it the best you possibly can, aka, after you've used up all your ideas for making it better.)

My worst critic is the internal one, which likes this phrase:

If this is the best you can do, you're never going to make it.

That critic likes to strike somewhere in the midst of the work, usually just before the 3/4 mark. The trick seems to be writing fast enough to drown the little sucker out.

Mr Flibble
08-03-2010, 02:24 AM
From Mr. Lily, after 3.5 years of actively working to get an agent: "Maybe you're just not good enough to get published."



My Old Man knows he'd get a frying pan in the face.....What I write isn't his thing. He's pleased for me though.

But is the single most hideous word in a response to a partial. As in 'I love the world building, I love what you've done here, and there, oh and here too, I loved it. But.'

I've had some comments that were a bit 'Er what?' from agents, but I never let them get me down. It's all subjective. I got one particular comment, told a member of my writers' group who'd beta'd and he said 'Are we talking about the same novel? Are you sure they read it?' But then there's stuff that makes me go oogy-squick so...

One man's meat is another man's crappy vegetarian sausage.

alex sultan
08-28-2010, 07:00 AM
OMG, you guys serious?

Seriously, if someone said something like that to me, I'd punch him in the face, ask questions later.

Or verbally destroy her on the spot, that should hurt much worse.

OL
08-28-2010, 07:49 AM
That I should go back to school and get an MFA, because I wasn't good enough to make it without one.

MsJudy
08-28-2010, 10:26 PM
Other Lisa, now that your debut book makes you a rock star, has that person apologized yet?

brainstorm77
09-02-2010, 02:28 AM
Some that I didn't understand.

scarletpeaches
09-02-2010, 02:31 AM
"There's not enough conflict and nothing to hook the reader," damn near gave me a nervous breakdown, especially as it's one of my best books.

Another editor requested the full within 24 hours....and bought it, I should add. :D

Mr. Anonymous
09-02-2010, 03:36 AM
I think I beat you all.

An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Reviewer said "This excerpt has no more literary merit than a discarded cereal box."

I didn't know whether to laugh or to scream (because of him I didn't continue on in the contest.) In retrospect, it is pretty hilarious.