When is it Appropriate to Offer Unsolicited Criticism of Someone’s Art?

cat-up-a-treeThere’s an old story about a chap who goes on vacation and leaves his dull-witted brother to care for the household.

After a week, he calls home and asks how his cat is faring.

“Cat’s dead,” his brother blurts.

“What? It’s what? That’s no way to tell someone their beloved pet died! Ya gotta work up to it.”

His brother, eager to learn, asks how one might do that.

… more … “When is it Appropriate to Offer Unsolicited Criticism of Someone’s Art?”

How Personal Relationships Make Feedback Valuable

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1230310 by peter ehrlich http://www.sxc.hu/profile/crazedcougSometimes when we’re stuck a total stranger has our answer. It’s not the most likely avenue to resolve our writing challenges, though.

The stranger would have to discover that we have a problem, and they’d have to know the solution (or at least a solution.)

If you describe your writing challenge to me, I have a rare ability to see and hear viscerally which gives me insights which are valuable even to a complete stranger.

That doesn’t scale, though. I can only work with a handful of coaching clients at a time. Also, I’m expensive.

… more … “How Personal Relationships Make Feedback Valuable”

What if I Don’t Want to Play by the Rules?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1404388 by Andreas Krappweis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/KrappweisWhen my middle daughter was taking an interest in music, I tried to teach her some piano basics, and a bit about music theory. Nothing elaborate. Things like chord patterns that work well, melodic structure, lyric writing.

She dismissed it all. “I know what I want to do, and I don’t need all that stuff.” To me, her playing sounded like she was just picking two keys at a time, stringing pairs of sounds together, vaguely timed against some clock that didn’t exist.

No lyrics. She was a poet, and I guess the lyrics were going to stay in her head, not come out of her mouth.

Fast forward 5 years. I mentioned that, at the time, it sure seemed like all she wanted was to “let her genius flow unhindered” rather than learning a few basics that could turn her meandering into real songs.

She said, “Yeah, I was just being lazy and pretentious. I need all that stuff. Will you teach me now?”

Her lyrics never fail to make me cry or laugh out loud. Her melodies are mature. She’s a decent piano player. And one of the finest singers I’ve ever known.

Lateral arabesque to a location somewhere in my head.
… more … “What if I Don’t Want to Play by the Rules?”

I Will Never Adjust My Art to Suit You

person from a photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/751032 by Jason Antony http://www.sxc.hu/profile/vancanjay child's drawing http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1422728 by the Horton Group http://www.hortongroup.com/Authors seem to think they need to please their fans, or Amazon, or a publisher. I know I’ll be the voice no one wants to hear, but I don’t change my art for anyone. And yeah, you’re gonna say that I’ll never be a best-seller; that if you don’t bend to the market, you’ll never get popular.

But I already have real-life experience which says otherwise.
… more … “I Will Never Adjust My Art to Suit You”