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BOARD

A criticized creature reports:

I am finishing up a let’s call it a creative project.  I have shared it with some of my friends and the reaction has been mostly positive.  Then out of the blue at a dinner party one of my friends said it was boring!  It took me aback and I didn’t reply, other than saying, well, it’s mostly done…then a few days ago in front of the same people she said it again!  My feelings are more than hurt, and I’m having a very, very hard time finishing my project.  What should I do?

LISTEN:

Your project.  Right.  Let me guess – first novel?

Figured.

Whatever – did you ask for her opinion?  You shared it with her, so it seems to me you were soliciting some kind of reaction.  If that’s the case, then you need to go ahead and suck it up.  If you think this is bad, wait until it’s done and the general public gets a hold of it.  People aren’t naturally kind and supportive, as you have discovered, and even our closest friends like the occasional taste of blood.

Perhaps you did, and perhaps you didn’t.  If you did, there’s still the problem of the second time.  The first time is your own fault if you did (and not if you didn’t) – but the second time…

What you should do is say, without sounding petulant, hurt, sarcastic, bruised…actually – sounding cheery would be best – you say:

Thank you!

That’s it.  No explanation, no description of why you’re grateful – just a good old fashioned

Thank you!

You know what will happen, don’t you?  She has been denied the reaction she wanted, or any one she could have reasonably expected, and so she’ll play it over and over again in her mind.  It’ll take a while to sink in – she’ll have to think of all the different variations of what could have followed Thank you!, like:

Thank you!  I’m so glad my project has been called boring in front of my friends!  Twice!

Thank you!  For making sure to point out how you think I’ve failed!

Thank you!  My confidence is shaken and my creativity feels hollowed out and crippled due to your frequent referrals to how boring my project is!

Thank you!

Who knows – maybe it is boring.  Add some sex and violence and it should be fine.  Remember – appealing to the lowest common denominator is a sure path to success.  Don’t try to raise or even hold higher standards than that, and you’ll be fine.  Dumb it down!  Sell it out!  Make it easy to digest, like fast food, soft drinks and potato starch snacks.

Just say thank you.

Thank you!  You’ve shown me how delicate my sensibilities are that I can’t take a crass joke!

Thank you!  I’m gonna go be a snotty baby and cry in the corner because you’re mean!

Thank you!  I just realized I have to grow the fuck up and take complete and total ownership of my own fucking project *cough* novel, and while your opinion matters to me, ultimately I have to be the judge, jury and executioner of my own creative output, and take a chance on what I think is worth creating without worrying about a throw away comment that probably has more to do with you than anything about me…

Right?

Thank you?

You’re welcome.

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