Swallowing tactile burrs and sour milk.
It takes guts to be a maker. When you make stuff, you’re taking internal parts of yourself – your thoughts, opinions, needs and desires – manifesting them in some sort of form, and, unless you hide what you make, you’re exposing your most vulnerable parts to other people. People who have their own thoughts, opinions, needs and desires, which they express about and project upon the thing that you made.
To be a critic, on the other hand, especially in this age of immediate everything, requires nothing but a flimsy point-of-view and a URL. In his article for the Columbia Journalism Review, Everyone Eats...But that doesn't make you a restaurant critic, Robert Sietsema explains:
More than ever, diners could use a reliable critical guide. But where once there were a few dependable voices who reviewed restaurants based on a common set of professional standards and strategies, there is now a digital free-for-all. As with many things on the Web, this profusion of voices is often touted as a wondrous blow for democracy, a long-overdue rising up of the masses against the elitist overlords of the culinary realm. Thus the runaway popularity of sites like Chowhound and Yelp, which publishes city-specific reviews by anyone who cares to weigh in on everything from restaurants to churches, and whose motto is “Real People. Real Reviews.” I’m all for everyone having his or her say, but when it comes to cultural criticism there is a strong case to be made for professionalism and expertise. As the eminent film critic Richard Schickel wrote in 2007, in response to a New York Times article on the decline of professional book-reviewing and the rise of review-bloggers: “Criticism—and its humble cousin, reviewing—is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions . . . . It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author’s (or filmmaker’s or painter’s) entire body of work, among other qualities.”
We are putting our chocolate into the world, which by that very act, invites criticism. Most of it good, some of it neutral. None of it that bad, so far. But all of which we are learning to take with a grain of salt. A nib of cacao. A crystal of sugar. Proceeding to act on the feedback that matters, ignore the feedback that doesn't, and continue to do the thing we love to do.*
* This episode of the Well-Tempered podcast will inspire you to love what you do, too.