Pearls from artists* # 281January 3, 2018
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Interviewer: Do you think criticism helps any?
Capote: Before publication, and if provided by persons whose judgment you trust, yes, of course criticism helps. But after something is published, all I want to hear is praise. Anything less is a bore, and I’ll give you fifty dollars if you produced a writer who can honestly say he was ever helped by the prissy carpings and condescensions of reviewers. I don’t mean to say that none of the professional critics are worth paying attention to – but few of the good ones review on a regular basis. Most of all, I believe in hardening yourself against opinion. I’ve had, and continue to receive, my full share of abuse, some of it extremely personal, but it doesn’t faze me any more. I can read the most outrageous libel about myself and never skip a pulsebeat. And in this connection there is one piece of advice I strongly urge: never demean yourself by talking back to a critic, never. Write those letters to the editor in your head, but don’t put them on paper.
Truman Capote in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews First Series, edited, and with an introduction by Malcolm Crowley
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