Alan J. Schwarz
May 9, 2020 · 4 min read

Joel Bliss sat at his desk looking at his computer screen and he felt like crying, in fact a tear was slowly rolling down his face. He tried not to let the criticism get to him, but he couldn’t help it. Instead of joy and elation he felt depressed and dejected.

When Covid-19 was made official and the world went into lockdown Joel thought it would be the ideal time to finally work on his writing and publish short stories.

Everyday he went to his computer, looked at the blank screen for about twenty seconds and got busy. He wrote from his heart, everything and anything he could think about.

After finishing his tenth short story Joel decided to post them on a popular site called ‘’CreatWrite’. It was pretty self explanatory, it was a site for writers to share their stories with the world. If people liked them they gave a thumbs up, and could write comments to give the author feedback. He wondered what kind of response he would get.

Joel wrote a passionate story about watching birds soaring outside of his window and wondering if he would ever have that kind of freedom again. Covid-19 had created a sense of sedentary and it was almost like the idea of travel and movement for humans had been wiped out.

He decided to take a look at the stats page on CreatWrite to see if anybody had bothered to look at his work. He was shocked to see that eighteen people had read one of his stories, and six had read another. There was one story where two people had read what he had written and someone named ‘’The Professor’’ had left a comment.

Joel had a feeling of excitement when he opened up the comment and then he felt a sense of despair. He wrote under the name JoeltheDreamer and the The Professor had written a note picking up on that. ‘’Dear JoeltheDreamer, You must be a dreamer if you think you’re a writer. Your work is mind numbing. Have you even read your own drivel? I spent five minutes reading your story about sex and I asked myself two questions, have you ever had sex, and how do I get back the five minutes I wasted reading your boring story. I could care less if you ever have sex again, why don’t you just play with yourself and save the world the trouble. The fact you worry about meeting a partner so you can procreate is laughable, what do you want to do? Bore her to death so she’ll pass out and you can take advantage of her? Your story was not entertaining and for lack of a better word, stupid. I could write eight pages about why I think you are the worst writer in the history of the world, but I have more important things to do, like picking lint out of my navel. Please stop writing, you are hurting brains. I absolutely hate your style and your content. I think you’d be better off binge watching Netflix by yourself, that way you stay away from expressing any kind of ideas. Please on behalf of humanity, stop writing before someone has to get a lobotomy because they read your incoherent mindless stories.’’

The hurt from reading the comment was real. It was devastating. Someone called ‘’The Professor’’ really hated his writing. He had been insulted with an almost rage. Maybe the Professor had a point, maybe his work was drivel.

Joel turned off the computer and went to lie down. He needed time to think. The funny thing was he was tempted to binge on Netflix as his critic had suggested.

As he laid in bed, he started thinking about the hostility associated with the criticism. The Professor was a brutal kind of person. No finesse, straight to the point, he was a no holds barred kind of individual. Joel wondered if the Professor was a man or woman, even though it really didn’t matter.

After about twenty minutes of going over and over the insults in his mind, Joel called his friend Moishe to get his opinion of the literary attack.

Moise Steimla was in Joel’s opinion one of the smartest people on the planet. He had built a hugely successful business and sold if for millions and then went to medical school and became a Surgeon. He also was religious and loved his family and friends with his whole heart.

When Joel read him the Professor’s criticism there was a long pause and then Moishe started to laugh. ‘Congrats Joel, you did it, you are a bonafide writer. You were able to provoke a person to react to your writing. You caused that person to want to respond to you. They were moved in such a way they needed to express themselves. What is the purpose of writing but to evoke a reaction and you did it. But I do have a question, why are you taking the Professor’s criticism so seriously? Does one person have that much influence on you? What about all the other people who read your work and didn’t leave any comments? If they enjoyed what you wrote but didn’t express that why are you punishing them because of one negative review. Maybe the Professor does that to everybody, maybe that’s the shtick. I just know one thing. Never quit anything because of criticism. Take it as a positive and move on.”

Joel thanked Moishe for the pep talk and felt a gazillion times better after he hung up. He immediately went to work writing a new short story called ‘’Writing Criticism and Covid-19, Not Fun!’’ When he finished he only had one thought, he wondered if the Professor would read it and try to find some place to go to have a lobotomy.

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