Thursday, June 9, 2011

Boundaries of Bashing

My perfectionism makes me a little critical. (For evidence, see my opinion on eBook formatting or my breakdown of e-reader apps.) This extends pretty much to all areas of my life.

In my day job, I spend a lot of time around ASL interpreters. I frequently find myself feeling conflicted. On one side, I've known some seriously awesome interpreters, and I know without a doubt I can't do their job. In fact, I've had to in a pinch once or twice. One of those occasions sparked a near panic-attack. (There's a reason interpreters usually work in pairs and switch off every 20-30 minutes. When I got to around 45 minutes, I went into vapor lock.)

On the other side, mistakes drive me nuts. Or worse, when I see a completely unqualified interpreter botching up everything. When I'm in a position where I'm signing and an interpreter is voicing for me, I pray to have earplugs. For one thing, it's just hard to concentrate. For another, any little pause or minor misinterpretation convinces me my signing skills are really that terrible.

And I admit, sometimes after enduring something with a really poor interpreter, I have to vent a little to one of my colleagues.

Even then, I try to remind myself at all times that it's an extremely difficult job—one I cannot do. I try to keep my venting to appropriate venues. When I'm in a position to help an interpreter improve, I do what I can. At the end of the day, I respect their effort, their training, and the difficulty of their job. And by and large, the interpreters I've dealt with fall into the Camp of Awesome.

What's my point? Oh, look, here comes a writing connection!

It's likewise easy from the writer's side of things to criticize how others in the industry do their jobs. Gripe about agents' long response times. Claim editors are out-of-touch. Rant about the stupidity of anyone and everyone in the publishing business.

There are certainly valid criticisms and discussions to be had on many publishing topics. When it crosses into agent/editor/publisher-bashing, I get a yucky feeling. It just ain't pretty, and it's definitely not professional.

Yes, I'm sure they make mistakes. I'm sure there are things they could (and maybe should) do better. Everyone on this planet has room to improve, even (especially) in our areas of expertise. But respect the job, respect the effort, respect the experience and training. Bashing is never the result of respect.

And for more on handling ourselves professionally, check out this post. Yeah, I'm even critical about responding to criticism.

Where do you draw that line between criticism/accountability and straight-up bashing?

1 comment:

Mindy McGinnis said...

Good post. For my part, I would never bash an agent or an editor, b/c I honestly have no idea how they go about doing their jobs. Just like I would never bash an electrician, cause, uh, I can't do it I will say with writers it is hard sometimes to see why some books are popular, let alone published. But - there is a reason why they are there. It might not be my cup of tea, but hey - somebody liked it.