I love criticism

(that is, ‘being criticised’. I’m less good at reading academic criticism)

I spend a fair bit of my time editing things – my own essays, articles for The Game Shelf, and a few other bits and pieces – and I really like it. I love trying to distill another’s argument into its skeleton, to allow them to patch a new, flashy skin together out of their creativity, or poke holes in that underlying argument so the writer considers their subject matter more carefully, and reaches stronger conclusions.

I’m also a fan of having my work criticised for those same reasons; the first draft of a thing is, by definition, a doomed attempt to render the ideas sparking from electrical impulses as tangible, almost artificial letters. Subsequent drafts, and revisions by me, help to push those letters closer to my original idea, keeping people’s interpretations of my thoughts in line with my thoughts, and codifying my ideas in ways that I can look back on and know are accurately recorded. Also, an appreciation of how things are written, not just that they’re written, allows one to play around with writing styles and structures for specific purposes, rather than letting style be this loose, intangible thing that is only picked up upon by nosey readers; this post, for instance, is intentionally flowery and multi-claused because I thought it’d be fun to write like that.

Today, I was rather given a taste of my own medicine when it comes to criticism, however; my new tutor edits and comments on work in the same helpfully blunt, often sarcastic way that I do. But instead of being hypocritically offended, I enjoyed it; I could see the thought process behind their editing work, just as they saw the thought process behind my writing work. I also appreciate the honesty of a ‘this is wrong’ comment over the ego-boosting padding of ‘I don’t agree with this but…’ annotation. Not that my tutor needs my approval to write comments like this, of course; this was just an observation that two people paying attention to the style of one’s writing can reach different conclusions via the same methods. It’s that grey area between mechanical process and creative conclusion that makes writing, and art more broadly, so enjoyable to probe and prod and discuss with other pretentious pricks over vegan smoothies in Camden cafés.

And I love editing, pretentiousness, and these lovely smoothies. *sips*


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