But what is intolerable is that the created being should be thus violently stripped of its own precious personality. The violence is none the less odious to the creator, for the ingratiating smirk with which it is offered. Nor is the offence any more excusable when it takes the form of endowing the creature with qualities, however amiable, which run contrary to the law of its being:
"I am sure Lord Peter will end up as a convinced Christian."
"From what I know of him, nothing is more unlikely."
"But as a Christian yourself, you must want him to be one."
"He would be horribly embarrassed by any such suggestion."
"But he's far too intelligent and far too nice, not to be a Christian."
"My dear lady, Peter is not the Ideal Man; he is an eighteenth-century Whig gentleman, born a little out of his time, and doubtful whether any claim to possess a soul is not a rather vulgar piece of presumption."
"I am disappointed."
"I'm afraid I can't help that."
(No; you shall not impose either your will or mine upon my creature. He is what he is, I will work no irrelevant miracles upon him, either for propaganda, or to curry favour, or to establish the consistency of my own principles. He exists in his own right and not to please you. Hands off.)
[Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, Chapter 9]
I've been thinking about this recently, for reasons that are too long and complicated to make sense here. But in general anyone who does a lot of writing that other people see, whether the writing itself is good or bad or, as is more usually the case, somewhere in a mediocre in-between, will discover two kinds of critics. The first kind is the good kind; they may be gentle, they may be harsh, but their criticism is entirely about the internal logic of the work. It is a fact that should be better known that every author fails, or, rather, the only authors who completely succeed are those who cannot think of anything really worth writing. It is always possible, by closely following the structure of the work, this thread or that, to come up with something that would be more in keeping with the inner law of the work than the author could quite manage to achieve. This is true of even those authors who often come as close to perfection as any human author in this life is likely to come, the Virgils and the Austens and the Shakespeares. Every author is a little short. And so the good kind of criticism is that which, respecting the inner work, opens at least the possibility -- not all criticisms pan out, and in fact many turn out to be dead ends, but the good ones at least raise the possibility -- of making the work more what it should be.
A great many people who read and criticize manage to do this -- an impressive number, actually. But a great many people are bad critics. Their criticism is not about the internal logic of the story at all. They do not provide criticisms that help the author write in a better way what he or she is trying to write; they criticize the author for writing the author's story or poem, and not the story or poem that they want written. They want the author to do the work they are too lazy to do themselves, and presume to pronounce on a story they can't be bothered to think through on its own terms. Or, for that matter, can't be bothered to consider whether the story they want is really the story that the author could conceivably write with any integrity, given the way the author writes.
It is notable that this is quite a universal thing. It's easier for them to hide, but one encounters them in nonfiction as much as fiction. And no one is safe from them. Jane Austen was continually harrassed by them. She was once asked to write a romance story, and she replied that she could no more write a serious romance than she could write an epic poem because she would never be able to get very far unless she were allowed to relax into laughing at herself and at others. The most famous instance, however, was the Reverend James Stanier Clarke, the Prince Regent's own librarian. It probably did not help at the time that Austen did not like the Prince Regent, but as it happened the Prince Regent enjoyed her books, and on learning that Austen was the author, arranged to Clarke give her a tour of his estate. Clark spent the entire time suggesting various elements of a story to her, one about a character remarkably like himself. She politely replied that she could certainly not do justice to such a story, and that to write it properly would require a classical education she did not have. And Clarke replied in a letter by suggesting another story, equally suspiciously like something out of Clarke's own life. And she ended by insisting that she must be allowed to go her own way, with her own style. To Clarke himself she was polite, but she could not help writing up a "Plan of a Novel" for her family, based on Clarke's irritatingly useless suggestions. As it happened, she made lemonade of that lemon, because the Plan is one of the best short pieces in Austen's oeuvre. But the exasperation of such things should not be underestimated.
In any case, I should hasten to note that my commenters here have in general been quite excellent; this is in mind for other sorts of reasons.