Monday, September 7, 2009

The Harsh Sting of Criticism

Once upon a time there was a woman, whose sole desire was to share her work with others. She would pour her soul into all that she did. But there was a problem when her essence was attached to her work. When others criticizes her labor it was like they were raking her soul. Like what she loved and treasured had become the trash others wiped their feet on. This was hard for the woman, for she felt certain at times that she should surrender, for she was terrible at all that she loved. But at other times a conviction stronger than steal would tell her that this was her path to walk. So she persisted in all that she did, and the criticism stung less each time she heard it. She began to value even the harshest of remarks, because beneath the words that stung so deep, was an opportunity to make herself better at the things she held dear.

When I wrote the first rough draft of my novel The Male Amendment I felt exhilarated. I had finally finished one of the many projects I have started but rarely see through to completion. I thought it was perfect-aside from grammatical issues. So I started sending out query letters to literary agents. *sighs and laughs at her once naive self* I began my journey to actual authorship when revisions began, and boy, were my eyes opened and was a good helping of humble pie eaten. With help from a friend, Monica, who was much too kind to tell me how terrible certain parts of my novel were. My marvelous meetings with Canadian author Lynn Coady, who served me my criticisms with a kindness that can only come from humility and compassion. And by joining the Critique Circle-an online writers group-did my voyage truly begin.

I can now fully understand what Lynn had once told me. That the hard part of writing wasn’t the actual fleshing out of the story, oh no my friends, that, is the easy part. The creative juices are flowing you’re caught up in the story and are taken along for the ride. The hard part, the craft-as Lynn called it-is in the countless revisions and the discipline involved with that art. This baffles my husband. He has no idea why I am still “messing” with my book. He thinks the hard part of the whole process was actually writing what turned out to be a 130,000 word-approximately 500 page- novel. I would have agreed with him a year ago, but so much has happened in that year.

When I used to read my critiques, I looked a lot like the picture. Tense, emotional, and wondering if there was any point of writing at all, I was such a failure after all. I was never good at accepting criticism, I was always hard enough on myself. But things have changed. I welcome the callous words that come to me from cyberspace, from authors who forget that there is a person on the other end of that send button. I am guilty of such harsh critiques, so don’t feel bad for me. Hidden inside even the worst of these criticisms-among the ego and writing style clashes, the purple prose and fridge logic, the POV conflicts and genre bashing- there is at least one sliver of truth I can painfully rip from the unwilling flesh that is the crit, that will add to my growing arsenal. I owe many thanks to those who have read my work.

I grow into a thicker skin and a better writer everyday because of it.

Stella

P.S.- Yes, I'm in my pajamas in these pictures. I'm a writer, do NOT judge me!!! LOL!! ;)

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