So here’s something I noticed this weekend. I am far, far more comfortable receiving criticism than praise.

Cases in point:
Last Friday, shortly before our CP summit was to convene, a certain CP and I had an email exchange in which certain ugly truths were brought to light. The main of which being, she doesn’t like my current hero. Which she clarified as being a real, active dislike of my hero. As opposed to Jeremy, the hero of GOTH, whom she simply didn’t find especially likable for most of the first draft.

This was not a big shock, sadly. I had suspected this was the case. And it took about ten minutes of grumbling before I got over it and started thinking of ways to rehabilitate my hero’s image. Because he is not just a likable guy, he is a lovable guy! And I am somehow failing him. I can only conclude this is happening because I am so desperately in love with my own character, I am neglecting to endear him to everyone else. Anyhow, it’s fixable. It was very hard criticism, but I took it in stride.

Contrast with this the unmitigated horror of receiving an award and roses in front of what felt like hundreds of strangers. And having the same CP, plus the other CP, persistently gushing about me to everyone in earshot despite my countless pleadings that they stop already!!! It made me itchy.

I have concluded that I would far rather be pilloried than praised. Why is this? Does it signify some deep-seated psychological issues? Or is it because women are trained to be demure and self-effacing? I don’t know. I think it’s just me.

How about you? Which do you take better – criticism or praise? Why?

And this is why Mr. Dare is so perfect for me.
Someone said to him over the weekend, “You must be so proud!”
His response? “I left it in the car.” (Evidently, he heard “you must be so proud” as “where’s your iPod?”)

22 comments to “TMI Tuesday – You can dish it out…”

  1. India Carolina
    · November 12th, 2007 at 11:52 pm · Link

    All I can do is repeat myself, Mr. Dare is adorable! And if you don’t want us to gush, all you have to do is to stop being fabulous.

  2. Camilla Bartley
    · November 13th, 2007 at 4:41 am · Link

    I daresay I’ve got in the habit of expecting criticism rather than praise because of past disappointments. That old “better to think the worst than the best” adage that kept me from trying my absolute best for fear that I’d still get slapped down. *g*

    I also think we’ve all been conditioned to be “humble” when we’ve achieved success so as not to grow an “ego”. Patting oneself on the back is frowned upon for the most part.

  3. Maggie Robinson
    · November 13th, 2007 at 4:56 am · Link

    I guess I don’t react well to either, so leave me alone, LOL. I was always the girl who, when complimented on her outfit, said ,”I got it on sale for X dollars ten years ago” instead of “Thank you.” I’m pretty aware of my own shortcomings, and am usually the first to criticize myself.

  4. Lindsey
    · November 13th, 2007 at 10:33 am · Link

    I think, as a natural problem solver, I prefer criticism because I know what to do with it. Though of course in my heart of hearts I love and yearn for praise, there’s the burden of response – what if I’m not gracious enough? I’m not a particularly effusive person, so what if I can’t reciprocate?

    Which is not at all something you have to worry about – your responses to praise are far more gracious and flattering than anything I’ve said to you warrants!

  5. Tessa Dare
    · November 13th, 2007 at 10:47 am · Link

    India – STOP!

    Camilla – I agree it’s always easier to expect disappointment. Then anything good is a pleasant surprise! And we are definitely conditioned to be humble.

    Maggie – I know what you mean. If someone compliments me, if I can’t deflect or outright deny it, my next instinct is to qualify it with a “yes, but…”

    Lindsey, I think you’ve hit on the key. There’s no easy response to praise. It’s far easier to know what to do with criticism. Good criticism makes me stronger, whereas I worry that accepting praise can only make me complacent, and that’s a dangerous thing.

    Hmmmmm. All good food for thought.

  6. Keira Soleore
    · November 13th, 2007 at 12:31 pm · Link

    I’m a neither or a mild both. Either leave me well enough alone, or if you have to praise or criticize, please, for heavens sake, be gentle. 🙂

  7. CM
    · November 13th, 2007 at 12:52 pm · Link

    I’m the same way. People who always say good things about me make me feel twitchy. I don’t like pure criticism, either, though–that doesn’t make me feel twitchy, but it sure doesn’t make me happy, either.

    But Tessa, you’re going to have to get used to some amount of gushing–because the closer your book comes to publication, the more I’m going to be talking it up. And you wouldn’t want me to LIE, would you? Plus, you’ll never train all your rabid fans.

    Don’t worry–if you ever feel uncomfortable, I’m sure that All About Romance or someone similar will stick you with a crappy review.

  8. India Carolina
    · November 13th, 2007 at 1:13 pm · Link

    So I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t hear me gushing and handing out your card to the person sitting next to me on the plane.

    How come Lindsey gets “gracious” and I get “STOP”?

  9. Tessa Dare
    · November 13th, 2007 at 1:55 pm · Link

    Uh, because Lindsey answered the question? And because Lindsey’s not passing out my cards to strangers on airplanes?

  10. Jacqueline Barbour
    · November 13th, 2007 at 3:30 pm · Link

    Oh, my! I do love praise, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t TRUST it. Criticism, I trust. Does that make sense?

    IOW, while I would prefer if everyone reading everything I wrote told me it was the best book ever written, I wouldn’t for a moment believe it. Whereas if they told me, “Sorry, but I don’t like X, Y, Z, and Q,” I’d believe it. And then I could try to fix it.

  11. India Carolina
    · November 13th, 2007 at 8:48 pm · Link

    So I only had the one card. And now I don’t. Could you send more, please? 🙂

  12. Lindsey
    · November 14th, 2007 at 8:17 am · Link

    But that’s only because I haven’t been on a plane! Just give me a chance… 😀

  13. terrio
    · November 14th, 2007 at 1:14 pm · Link

    Late as usual. So sorry. I’m exactly as Maggie described herself. I can never just say thank you. But I’m working on it. It’s just a reflex to deflect the compliment. Why do we do that?

    I’d hand out your card if I had one. And I also talked about you over the weekend. I was talking to Cathy Maxwell (hold on while I pick up that name *g*) and we were talking about how silly it is that they say historicals were out. I used you as an example of how they are soooooo in. LOL!

    Now I’ve mentioned you in person and on a forum. I think that deserves an ARC. LOL!

  14. Lenora Bell
    · November 14th, 2007 at 1:46 pm · Link

    Mr. Dare is so cute. I love his befuddled professorisms.

    Huge huge congrats on your double contest wins. I wish I could have been there to cheer and dish out more praise and make your face even redder.

    I think I’m like you. Go ahead, heap on the criticism, anything you say can’t be worse than my own self-castigation. But easy on the praise, because it makes me feel guilty, like I’m stealing the limelight from someone else. Except when I’m on stage singing Liza. Then everyone better stop talking and worship me. What a contradictory mess!

  15. Elyssa Papa
    · November 14th, 2007 at 6:55 pm · Link

    God, I think it depends on the mood I’m in that day. *g* I’m more used to criticism than praise. Criticism makes me look at the manuscript in a different light, and more often than not the CP is right.

    Although my criticisms of other people’s writing tends to be: OMG, this is soooo awesome. I’m sure that’s really helpful to the author. lol

  16. doglady
    · November 14th, 2007 at 7:55 pm · Link

    Sounds like Mr. Dare is a doll. Photos please? I have been singing since I was nine years old and I will tell you receiving praise NEVER gets easier. What do you say that doesn’t sound egotistical, but doesn’t sound unappreciative either? What is it that Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman says, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.” Fortunately I have received enough criticism as a singer to be able to sift through it, take what I can use and forget the rest. I am learning to do that with my writing. As a singer I learned to smile graciously and say “Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.” Think that would work for a writer?

  17. Ericka Scott
    · November 15th, 2007 at 5:24 pm · Link

    Oh, I don’t mind the criticism…but I love the praise.

    Laughs for Mr. Dare — he must be so proud of you (and I’m sure he didn’t leave his pride in the car!)

  18. Alyssa Goodnight
    · November 15th, 2007 at 8:44 pm · Link

    Love that last part!

    And what a great attitude you have about your writing and your critique partners! I aspire to that!

  19. Mr Dare
    · November 15th, 2007 at 9:30 pm · Link

    I thank you all for the kind words but Mr Dare is Mr Joe Ordinary. Please lower those expectations quick as it is becoming too high to live up to.

    I am indeed very proud of Ms Dare for all the wonderful things she does day in and day out. Mr Dare and the Darelings are very lucky. And the Ipod… lol…

  20. Alice Audrey
    · November 16th, 2007 at 9:21 am · Link

    I don’t trust paise and I take criticism with a grain of salt. I guess I’m no good with either, yet I keep fishing for both.

  21. lacey kaye
    · November 16th, 2007 at 10:05 pm · Link

    MR DARE!!!!!


  22. Ervin A.
    · November 17th, 2007 at 11:16 pm · Link

    I don’t like to hear what anyone has to say about my writing. I always tell people who want to read my stuff, “Well, you can read it, but I don’t want to hear what you think. Keep it to yourself.” I have this fear that people who don’t like my writing will hold it against me personally, which is ridiculous, because I’m pretty awesome most of the time. So, yeah, I think I’m equally bothered by praise and criticism. If people really like my writing, then I feel obligated to be just as wonderful in person as I am on the page, if that makes any sense. I’m babbling. But, Tessa, as far as your work goes, everything I’ve read by you has been wonderful (can’t wait to read the book), so commence with the itching, Milady.