Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Character of the week: the critic

Author: Paulo Coelho

In the past I have received emails from readers who have felt personally insulted when they have read a bad review about one of my books. Firstly, I thank you for your solidarity. Secondly: don’t take the critics too seriously! Just ask: “if you can do better, why don’t you write a book?”

After 20 years of writing, I have come to some conclusions which have helped me a lot in my books. In “The Zahir”, the main character knows already, even before his book is published, what critics are going to say.

It is not up to me to criticize the critics – I am a writer. When I meet one of them (and I meet them very often) they are normally embarrassed. They try to be nice, as if I was insulted. They are normally surprised with my reaction ( “I don’t take your comments as a personal offense”).

Why am I writing this? Because I am convinced that most of you may feel hurt when someone criticizes your work. As I said before, don’t take critics too seriously. Don’t give them the importance they don’t have. They are trying to make a living, and that’s all.

If I did not manage to convince you, please read the comments below:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. ~ Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

Critics should find meaningful work ~ John Grisham

To escape criticism “” do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper. ~ Errol Flynn

If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now. ~ Fred Allen

Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with, the wind. ~ Hamilton Mabie

There is no defense against criticism except obscurity. ~ Joseph Addison

I have always been very fond of them (drama critics) . . . I think it is so frightfully clever of them to go night after night to the theatre and know so little about it. ~ Noel Coward

All the world’s a stage, and all the clergymen critics. ~ Gregory Nunn

A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. ~ Samuel Johnson

Critics don’t buy records. They get ’em free. ~ Nat King Cole

Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find. ~ Peter Ustinov

I don’t like to write like God. It is only because you never do it, though, that the critics think you can’t do it ~ Ernest Hemingway (Nobel Prize of Literature)

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.

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