September 19, 2022

Are You a Critic or a Celebrator?

In July 1855, a relatively unknown writer self-published his first poetry collection.

Sales for his supposed-to-be breakthrough book came in slow, appreciation for his work was scarce. Despite these (and the harsh criticisms he received here and there), the writer took heart — all thanks to this generous letter of praise from the then celebrated essayist, philosopher, and lecturer of his time.

The former kept working on his first book, refining and refining, while publishing a couple others in the course of the tumultuous timeline of his life. Eventually, he became known as one of the greatest American poets.

There is beauty and benefit in becoming an encouraging celebrator, not a cruel critic.

P.S. The then unknown writer was Walt Whitman, the kind-hearted essayist who wrote the morale-boosting letter was Ralph Waldo Emerson. This musing was inspired by this deep dive from The Marginalian.

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