Heckling vs Criticism


Jimfear138 shares his thoughts concerning a recent dustup within the Pulp Revolution. [Caution: NSFW language.]
So what I'm talking about is this whole Groffin shit. For the uninitiated, and I only know the story so far back, apparently Groffin is an internet commentator who got into a slapfight with Jeffro over the supposed chest-thumping and victory-declaring that happens on the right side of politics, particularly The Vox Day Side Of Things™. I don't read Vox' blog, I catch maybe a post every two or three months, and I don't generally trouble myself about what Vox is getting up to because he's a big boy and can take care of himself. So maybe that chest thumping is happening over there, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.
So Groffin cheesed Jeffro off, is the point to that. Then Jeffro done did this. So that happened.
Now I think G-man has some points here. Or at least he's describing reality. Big deal. Anyone can do that. I'd have thought the things he said didn't need to be said, because they were obvious. I thought everybody already knew what Groffin laid out, but apparently for some people this was more of a bucket of cold water to the face than a "Well, duh, now tell me the color of the sky" moment. But then again, here I am giving a short, autistic internet history lesson of recent events so I can say the incredibly obvious bullshit I'm about to say, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, on with it.
So Jesse Lucas (who doesn't have a steemit but you can find on twitter @JesseLucasSaga) makes a post on the pulprev dot com, linked here. Jesse lays down some truth here as well. It's worth a read, even if I think it is being depressing and melodramatic for no reason.
There is much, much more at the link.

Short version: Jeffro posted a reply to David Brooks' defeatist NYT piece about Conservatives having no cultural power. A commenter showed up and heckled the #PulpRev. Being relatively new authors, some of them unduly took the trash talk disguised as criticism to heart. It's an old story.

Jim generally has it right that this controversy is much ado about nothing. I've written about how to take criticism previously. But before writers can benefit from constructive critiques of their work, they need to master the skill of discerning criticism from heckling.

In a nutshell:

  • If someone is just bitching--especially based on subjective matters of taste--about the quality and/or financial success of a work while offering no suggestions for how to improve, he's heckling and should be ignored.
  • If, on the other hand, someone is pointing out objective flaws that keep a work from living up to its proper standard, and he suggests ways to overcome these defects, he is a critic whose feedback is worthy of consideration.
Here are some bonus tips for separating the criticism wheat from the heckling chaff.
  1. Is the commenter holding up classic works by some legendary author as the standard you work must meet to pass muster? He's heckling. Dishonestly. Ask him to show you his books.
  2. Does the alleged critic compare your book's sales performance to that of the Big Five publishers? He's sperging. Ask to see his sales figures.
  3. Has your interlocutor pointed out that your two year-old literary movement hasn't rocked the publishing industry to its foundations yet? He's trolling. Ask him to share his master plan for world domination.
And as always, keep writing. Keep reading deeply and broadly in your genre, and support authors who are producing fun alternatives to tradpub's pink slime.

Epic Conclusion to the Soul Cycle. If you haven't read the rest, why not?


  1. Some of the guys must be really bored. I honestly can't see how this was worth more digital ink than Jeffro's original response.

    All I see is a young movement busy sharing, learning, and creating. Which is all they can do.

    So what's the problem?

    1. The problem is that these displaced aristocratic refugees are engaged in govt in exile politics. They're so committed to emigre politics that they've overlooked the victories and the enemies rollbacks and retreats.
      No matter. I'm a guerilla happily digging up the buried caches,stealing from the enemy and picking up the airdropped supplies from the SOE equivalent.
      Victory isn't assured but boy does the strategic picture looks much better

  2. I'll be completely honest, I dismissed Groffin as a troll after his comments about Tolkien and the 'JQ'. I'm not really going to dignify a lot of his comments since they just seem like a low effort /pol/ troll until he fleshes out his arguments more. He does make real points, but good trolls often have to, or else no one will bite the bait.

    I guess the real argument boils down to a tiff between Jeffro and Jesse. Jesse has long warned against self congratulation and feels that Pulprev isn't an automatic win, and has said as much on his blog. That's probably why he latched onto Groffin's comments. Also probably a personality conflict. Jeffro does tend to come off as bombastic on his blog.

    I'm sure it'll sort itself out. If it not, another lesson for people to learn from.

    1. Exactly. That's why I took advantage of the teachable moment.

    2. Brian -- You and Jim hit the nail square on the head. We *all* need valid criticism to improve, and a thicker skin to accept it. (Even us non-writer types!) Sometimes, our precious baby *is* just that ugly.

      The only way to improve is to practice, stumble, and get up again. With someone who points out ways to better do your job, this process is easier to map out and accomplish.

      That honest reviewer who can point out mistakes, bad habits, or blind spots is *invaluable* to us as creators.

      Reward them where you can, even if it's painful to accept that you aren't perfect...yet.

      The troll makes good fertilizer for the alfalfa field in the spring.

    3. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    4. Man ofthe atom

      A good comment. And as men we can only improve our toxic masculinity(tm) when we're challenged and forced to be responsible for our behavior (and includes content creation).
      I dislike criticism but if it's given in the spirit of dude you can do much better then i'll accept it