Sometimes, it's all too easy to feel like this.(img: Hernán Piñera)Sometimes, it's all too easy to feel like this.(img: Hernán Piñera)

Posting this because I saw someone, a first-time writer, quit a story I liked recently because "the haters won't stop."  I actually liked the story, it was relatively bug-free, and well-written.  No, he (I'm assuming it was a he) quit because small-minded individuals on 4chan decided to have a field day with his story.

For starters, I'm sorry that happened.  You shouldn't quit.  You're a new writer, and it's inevitable that you'll have detractors.

Stephen King has them.

JK Rowling has them.

Tolstoy had them.

Tolkein had them.

Shakespeare had them.

Dante Alleghiri had them.

Fuck, for all I know, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had them - they certainly do nowadays.

The fact is, new writer, there are two things you need to understand: there are detractors, and then there are critics.  The two are different, and over thirty years of writing, I can say with confidence that sometimes, they're not always easy to tell them apart - sometimes they're even one and the same.

Detractors are small-minded men and women who will tear you down just to make themselves look good, even for a while.  They enjoy the drug-like rush of attention, and to them any attention is good.  Hell, even nowadays (as you've seen), they don't even have to have the courage to say it to your face.  They revel in the fact that they find others that agree with them and help tear down others.

Half the time they don't even really read your stories.

Hell, most of them probably haven't even written anything in their lives, save for school essays.

That's because they're consumers - all they can do is consume.  All they can do is continue to feed and to shit out garbage and filth, then continue the cycle.  Maybe they're right on a point or two, but they're not writing for that.  They're writing, as a famous author once said, "for the orgasm of insults."  To them, the story is not - will never be - about you.  It's about them; namely, what you can give them without them giving back, forever until you're a non-producing corpse and what they can take, parasite-like, from the next author.

They don't care that you might be the next BNA (big name author).

Hell, they probably did the same to BNAs before they were big anyway.

Critics might look like jerks, but in the worst case, they're jerks on your side.(img: Thomas Fisher Library)Critics might look like jerks, but in the worst case, they're jerks on your side.(img: Thomas Fisher Library)

On the flipside, there are critics.  As I said before, oftentimes they sound the same, and just as often can cross the line and morph into detractors.  But these people care about your work and your growth.  These people want you to know you overused a word, or your storyline is too simplistic or that you need an editor badly.  Because they see the time, the effort and the blood, sweat and tears that went into  your work.  These are the "other" that you must embrace.  Not the detractors, the critics.

Sometimes, it's hard.  You can go on some sites and see the arguments I've had with mine.  It's not easy to stick to your guns when you know you're right - and even harder to admit you're wrong when you are.  But they're doing it because they care.  And best of all, they'll have the courage to do it (virtually) face to face: they'll PM you, or write a post, or what have you, their screen name (or real name) included, because they want that dialog - because they're not afraid to go mano y mano with you just for the sake of improving you.  They're the ones that break you down to build you up even better.

The detractors?  Fuck 'em.

The critics?  Embrace them.

As for everyone else?  They'll still be there, and they were never a problem to begin with.