A little over a month ago something happened to me. It was mind-boggling. It was jaw-dropping. It was a hot mess. Ok, I’m being a bit of a drama queen. Well, sort of.
One of the things that I promised myself that I would do to help better my writing was to seek out critiques from fellow writers. I’m really self-conscious so this would be a big leap for me. Besides, every article or post about writing urges you to do this even if you don’t do anything else in your writing journey. Other writers can give you an objective eye of what your work lacks better than Aunt Bessie or your cat Mittens ever could. Let’s face it, they love everything that you write even if it truly sucks.
I decided to step outside my box and have a few writers that I have a pretty good rapport with critique a short story I was working on. The only other person who had read my piece was my hubby, and, of course, he loved it. So, you know that his opinion was worth zilch. (refer to my statement about Aunt Bessie and Mittens) Hubby has to love my stuff.
And sure, I’ve posted pieces of my work on my blog, but most people who read them will keep on trucking if they don’t like them. Rarely have I gotten “you have too many run-on sentences” or “you’ve used ‘that’ too much” or “I can’t follow your story idea at all” even if it was true.
So as I anxiously awaited the feedback, I went through an array of feelings but the biggest one was
blind confidence. They just had to like my story, right? I’ve gotten “likes” on my fiction pieces on my blog so I should be good to go, right? I know I can put words to paper so all they can really rip me on is my verb tense or sentence structure, right? Boy, was I a wrong cookie.
The overall consensus was that the story idea was pretty good. One of the writers gave me a favorable evaluation, but the other writer’s review knocked me right off my high-horse onto my
arse bum. Yep, his feedback sent me right back to the fetal position. It stung hard. So much so, that my hubby left me alone in my bedroom all day. He knew crazy when he saw it.
Hours and hours…and hours later, I finally mustered up the strength to email this writer back to thank him for his time and that I would take his thoughts into consideration. In his defense, he did offer to lend an ear for any revisions. He’s generally a pretty cool dude so I really won’t hold a grudge and unfollow him on Twitter.
Believe me, revisions were far from my agenda. I contemplated not writing anymore because obviously I was untalented. Why else would this have happened to me? I mean, if my short story was torn to shreds, what would happen to my novel-in-progress? I decided I didn’t want to face that nightmare.
I emailed a two-time published writer friend and asked if she had ever gotten any unfavorable critiques before and of course she tried talking me off the ledge by assuring me that all writers have. They’re meant to be tools, not weapons. She also said that it’s just one person’s opinion, not the gospel.
Weeks later, after snapping out of my coma and drinking many glasses of Moscato, I’ve picked that
same story back up and decided to look at it with fresh eyes. I’m taking some of his advice to heart and using it to rework parts of my piece. Notice I said some. I don’t have to agree with everything he said.
Have you ever had any of your work critiqued and if so, how did you handle unfavorable feedback? Was it helpful or hurtful? Did you leave that person in the dust or are they still your critique partner? Or maybe you haven’t tested the waters yet and are still a critique virgin?