“Please do not take this as a criticism of your work…”

The kind but slightly odd words of a publisher politely declining to publish one of my Christmas carols included a phrase indicating their refusal isn’t criticism.

I realise they have a duty not to drive the hopelessly optimistic to suicidal self-loathing, but do they need to tell such a bare-faced lie? In an attempt to avoid comparisons with less kind feedback, have they simply pushed beyond the meanings of the words they use?

Criticism is not a negative process. It deals with  all aspects of the thing being criticised, whether good, bad, both or neither.

A particular brand of gun can receive both critical acclaim and critical damnation for ease of use. It depends entirely on your point of view and the standards by which you judge. If you want guns that are too complex for children to operate, ease of use becomes a balancing act between smart 5 year olds and people who can’t or won’t read the instructions first and then sue when they accidentally shoot themselves in the foot.

In this way, we see that criticism is just the process of evaluating something and drawing conclusions. Even from that definition, I may not have the full picture. However, it’s enough for me to say with certainty that the publishers have criticised my work. They have looked at it, played it through, and decided not to accept it.

Fair enough really, it wasn’t that great to begin with. Certainly not worthy of the great G K, and therefore not worth crying over. Maybe I’ll try it with one or two more companies to see if there are people with different benchmarks or more sympathetic points of view.

A note to the publishers though: If you see it for yourself, with my name on the page, by all means refuse it. Hey, burn it if that makes you feel good, but don’t then patronise me in your refusal letter. At the very least, the niceties should be within the realms of the believable.

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