Criticism is a vital part of literature, and for that matter most fields. Active, reasoned critiques help identify weaknesses and strengths, provide multiple interpretations and perspectives on disparate matters, and foster improvement, perhaps more than anything else. They are just as essential to individuals; critical feedback is immensely helpful to improving oneself in any number of aspects, whether that's a specific ability, or more generally. It is something that we are encouraged to actively seek out in order to understand how our work and how we are perceived and received by others. Unfortunately, it is also something that I struggle with receiving.
This is another one of those “why write” posts, where I talk about why I write and why I read. I’d like to address something that I think I’ve alluded to in a few different places on the site or in previous posts, but never really explained fully. Now, everyone writes for different reasons, and everyone reads for different reasons, so by no means am I trying to assert that anything here constitutes some manner of ultimate right or wrong. Which leads nicely into what I actually want to talk about, because I don’t think that we should look to stories to tell us right from wrong.
There are certain novels that you can read again and again, and you’ll always get something a little different out of them. It can be because you’re at a different point in your life, or because you’ve read other things and are approaching the story with a different context, or simply because the story is that intricate and beautifully written that, like any other great work of art, there are always more mysteries to be revealed. When it comes to literature, these are often the books that first got you into the genre, and that you come back to time and time again. These are the books that are thumbed through and dog-eared and well-worn. There might be pages trying to fall out, maybe even a tear here and there. These are well loved books.