Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Never Give Up

As a writer I encounter all kinds of people, often very well-meaning, who do or say things that I find discouraging. It might be a critique partner. It might be a contest judge. It might be a rejection letter. Writing for other people, rather than just for oneself, opens up a writer to all kinds of opportunity for heartache.

A friend of mine, after critiquing someone else’s writing, got back the complaint, “I feel like you just told me my baby is ugly.”

Whose fault is that? The critique partner? Maybe. She might have been un-diplomatic or un-gentle about her criticism. More likely it’s the fault of the writer for taking offense and worse, lashing out at her critique partner. If you can’t take criticism, you don’t have any business trying to get published. Sure it hurts. Sometimes, after years of writing, entering contests, and submitting, I still get my feelings hurt. I cry. I pout. I rage. I eat chocolate. Then I roll up my sleeves, take a second, and hopefully objective, look at the criticism, and ask myself if there’s any truth in their words. Sometimes no. Sometimes yes.

The point is to not give up. If, at some point in the race, you fall down and skin your knees, get up, dust yourself off, put on a Band-Aid, get a kiss from your Mommy (or whoever is in your corner cheering you on), and get back into the race.

Persistence will eventually pay off. And sweet victory will follow.


Rebecca J. Clark said...

I so agree with this post! We writers need to develop a really thick skin. If we can't stand the heat, so to speak, we need to get out of the kitchen. :) Rejection and criticism are never easy, but they are part of this job. A big part, unfortunately.

I always take a day to "mourn," eat some chocolate, go for a long walk, then get back to it.

Thanks for posting.


Hywela Lyn said...

I do agree Donna, as writers, we need to develop a thick skin but it's not easy, and criticism always hurts, however justified, but as you say, after standing back for a while, one can usually learn from the experience, and hopefully learn.

There are ways to crit without being hurtful though - if you say 'your baby stinks' that's practically guaranteed to get a sharp and defensive reaction. If. however, you say 'your baby has a lot going for it, but perhaps it could benefit from a change of nappy' (sorry I think I mean diaper) it's much more likely trigger the desired result.