Friday, January 15, 2010

On the Difference Between Honesty and Bluntness

Honesty is different than bluntness. Bluntness is the intensity of how you say what you mean. You can be a little honest and very blunt at the same time. A good critic should always strive to be honest. If you're not honest, you're not a good critic. But you don't have to be blunt to be a good critic. When a critic is very blunt, people assume he's being rude, and he might very well be. Honesty isn't about etiquette. Bluntness is. With a poet friend you can be blunt, and they probably will forgive you, and still want to hang out with you on Friday night and drink margaritas and watch Buffy reruns or Dollhouse.

I pride myself on being a critic who is honest. Honesty is a good thing especially if you have the right friends, they forgive you if what you say hurts/annoys them. My friends are smarter than me, which is deliberate on my part. When you have smarter friends, they quickly figure you out and know how your mind is troubled. Once my partner and I got into a fight, and I got hysterical, and he said, You are crazy and insincere. He knows who I am. I love him.

Sincerity is a different thing altogether from honesty and bluntness.

A well-intentioned critic may panic that the honesty won't be noticed, so they freak out even more and become more blunt. You can't use bluntness as a vehicle to become more honest and therefore noticed. In fact, if you try it, it may have have the opposite effect, especially when it reaches people you may not know. All people will notice is the bluntness and no one hears (understandably) the desire to be honest. No one will hear the striving to talk critically and sometimes even affectionately. No one will hear that you try to be honest to disclose something like love to certain poems and people (and sometimes even other posts on other blogs.)


  1. I agree with your assertion, Steve. I've always wanted my work to be looked at with a brutally honest eye. If my stuff stinks, I want to know it. I don't find myself getting upset over bluntness, but I could see where if might be problematic, especially if that bluntness is coming from someone the writer holds in high regard.

    I've noticed that a lot of people (classmates) tend to get defensive about their work (rightfully so, they SHOULD care about their craft), but to the point where it colors their view of other's work.

    I'm never blunt (at least I don't believe so), but I'm very honest. I don't think that anyone can grow as a writer unless they take in myriad opinions and learn from them.

  2. Once upon a time, I asked Steve to look at an essay. I emailed it to him. He said, where's the essay. I said, I sent it. He said, I know. I read it. But where's the essay part. That was blunt. Was it helpful? Only after I complained about the bluntness.

  3. Of course, the nice thing about having a blunt/honest friend is the praise is just as blunt.

  4. Coming from art school, I can appreciate the importance of how one defines 'critique.'
    Im young, foolish, and Im in the process of writing a novel called, "THE LAST GREAT american JOURNEY," (a title that is sure to inspire a diverse palette of both blunt, and honest critique) Would anyone by chance have a second to sock me as hard as they want with blunt/honest criticism? Heres my blog following the novel-

  5. Im sorry, that title is "THE LAST GREAT american NOVEL." (big difference in contex)The BLOG is Journey...