Continuing World

Wake Up, Girls! and the Harshness of Criticism

One of the hardest parts of fiction writing is getting good feedback. The problem is that good feedback tends to be harsh and blunt and awful to hear. And we writers need it.

Writing is hard, precisely because it’s hard to gauge. It takes a modicum of focused reading to identify flaws in the text, and more effort to convey what needs improvement. Most people can’t give a decent critique because it’ll make them say something mean, and we all know how creative types hold their creations close to their hearts. It’s impossible to be fully detached to one’s creative effort, and honest critiques twist the knife.

Writing is hard, because most people treat it as a magical thing wherein writers turn in bestselling books every year and rake in the money, as if it’s some special, god-given quality. It’s a skill, and to get better at it, writers must know exactly how they’re doing. Plain encouragement doesn’t cut it.

It goes for the entertainment industry, too. Watching Wake Up, Girls! hit close to home, especially in the arc wherein Hayasaka takes over management of the group. It takes a tough soul to tell someone who’s trying their best that no, their best is not good enough and they totally lack talent. Taking criticism is a difficult skill to master, and I’ve never truly formed a thick skin of my own to weather the harshest.

So why does Hayasaka have to be mean?

If you ask me, this is the gulf that separates the doers from the dreamers. The world is harsh, and people will say anything outside of a controlled environment. The ability to endure in spite of callous, malicious words thrown your way is a prime element in creative success. Do you go on, even when nobody likes you? Hayasaka’s tutelage is the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, preparing the girls for the worst.

After all, if you can endure that, then you could plow through the rest. But isn’t that a sad way to engage in something? You can never get better if nobody tells you how much you suck?

It pays to kick off your shoes and just have fun–I really like the part in episode 2 where Miyu shows the rest of the girls her maid job. She goes a few steps down to recharge and recapture her love of performing. It’s especially the tonic that I need after being repeatedly kicked down for trying. We need to recharge, to remind ourselves why we keep at this painful pursuit in the first place. And in doing so, we renew our resolve to try again tomorrow, and the day after.