… but only if you allow it to be.
When I began writing, I thought I was the best darn writer in the Universe.
No matter that I’d never written anything more than a couple of rhyming tales for kids that weren’t even good enough to see the light of day.
I’d created a novel, dammit, and mine was better than yours.
Of course, comments along the lines of: I prefer your writing to Charlaine Harris’s only stroked my ego further. Yes, (in my swollen head) I was BRILLIANT! Not that I’d ever complain about such mutterings—without those I may never have continued along the path to the city (read on to see what that means).
So … how exactly does one get on this amazing path, you ask?
First stop is the local village, where you grow the balls to get your work read.
Whilst perusing the locals, you choose which town to move on to … and grow even bigger balls to get your work reviewed or critiqued while you wait.
Then you fuel up before the trek, at the local diner … and eat enough humble pie to give you indigestion, by accepting all feedback with a constructive eye.
Because when the comments don’t consist merely of: “You rock!”, it can be a little hard to take.
Yes, some critiques have made me feel like crying/stamping my feet/ripping my notepads into tiny enough shreds that I’ll never have to look at my shite story EVER again. But some critiques have also made me grin from ear to ear and BELIEVE in myself.
Guess which are the most useful?
Oddly enough, neither of the two as singular feedback, but a combination … because yes, some critiquers have the ability to tell you what isn’t working (and sometimes why), but there are those gems who also remember to let you know exactly where you’ve got it right.
When I first received critiques, if they didn’t gush with their awe of my greatness, I took it personally. Because one of the hardest hurdles to leap as a new writer is deciphering the good stuff in the criticism, learning to apply it, figuring out what advice to take and what to leave … you get the picture, right?
If you’ve mastered the art of that, you’ve probably had your fill of pie, and are ready to pack a bag and move into town.
Living in town kind of alters your perspective. You don’t necessarily long for the critiques to hold as few words as possible. Instead, you relish the suggestions, the pokes that tell you to quit slacking and “make this pile of pants chapter stronger, dammit”, and you begin to hold gratitude for those who urge yourself look outside of your box and push yourself that little bit harder with every word you write.
Before you know, you’re in the big city. Every single bit of advice received hangs about in your subconscious like a crazy mantra that holds control over the tap of your fingers.
You go to write a word and the voice of your critiques start their haunting screams: NOT THAT WORD! COME ON! THINK HARDER! YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS!
In the big city, the racket is way louder … but, hot damn, the results are sweeter by far.
If you’ve reached the city? Congratulations—you might just have what it takes.