“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”
Now this will be a very interesting topic to blog about considering that I’m not out there in the big trenches of submission gloom waiting for the slings and arrows of agents to come whistling my way.
For those of you who have missed it- I’m taking a year off from seeking representation or publication. This wild and crazy idea came to me when I realized my first attempt at publication needed a lot of work- as in I had no right to be out there. But I never would have known I was out there too soon unless I had tried so therefore I HAD to have been submitting- and being rejected.(Really, it makes sense eventually. ;))
Since rejection is really the ultimate criticism and since I have currently removed that aspect from my life, I’ve cut down on the amount of criticism I’m being faced with.
However, since this is a year of writer growth for me, there will be and has been, some criticism. I’ve had the privilege to have been critiqued by some very smart women in the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal RWA chapter. Funny thing, the best ones were the ones who nailed me to the wall. Not cruelly mind you, but the, “here’s what’s not working…and where you need to go” type of crits.
I’ve also gotten great feedback one on one with a few fellow writers- some doing a beta read, some doing more line edits. Even when I don’t agree with everything (and it would be weird for two folks to agree with everything in a MSS don’t you think?), it’s still vital.
Also had some professional crits - two different professional editors critiquing two different works- more information, more things to think about. Again, some stuff worked, some didn’t.
I have also had the privilege of working with a very admired (and tough as heck) award winning, bestselling author. She’s caused me some pain- but in the end, she’s right (about most things- I’m keeping my interior window-don’t ask ;)). Her unwavering dedication to getting things right- even little things most writer’s would ignore- has changed the way I view my own writing completely.
And now I’m working with two other local writers to form our own little writing group. I haven’t gotten feedback yet per say, but knowing what I know of them- it will be very useful.
The point is, without criticism, I would argue that a writer cannot grow. Even a published author, if all they hear is how wonderful their work is, will eventually stagnate. First their work won’t be edited, then readers become disenfranchised, then their publisher drops them. All because perhaps they DIDN’T have more criticism in their lives.
As I intend to be a writer for the rest of my life, I don’t see me ever outgrowing the need for criticism.
So maybe instead of a lamppost being pee’d on, the image should be of a plant being watered.