I used to pride myself for having a tough-as-nails journalist's approach to criticism. After all, in the newsroom, strangers would call me on practically a daily basis to berate me on something one of my reporters or I wrote. Lawsuits were sometimes threatened, and one time I believe I was visited by an honest-to-God yakuza member who was angered by a story that was published.
But that was more than 10 years ago, and I'm discovering that I'm going soft. Now with the Internet, readers can find us easily. While 99% of the communication is positive, it's that other one percent that always seems to resonate and hurt. One e-mail last week accused me of awful things--beyond writerly matters--and I knew that the reader was bringing personal political agendas to the table, but it still affected me. I wrote the reader back and actually our dialogue led to deep and powerful revelations. And while on one level that's meaningful, it's still valuable time that I can't get back.
I've long come to the conclusion that reading amazon reviews or googling myself is counterproductive, not productive, so I've stopped doing that a couple years ago. So how about you? Are you able to be very analytical about reader criticisms? Do they actually help rather than hinder you? And how can I get back my tough exterior?