In the past, we talked a little about prepping for rejection. This post is along the same lines. I recently became a member of a community (Book Country) where you can post chapters of your work for people to read and review. I was totally excited to get real feedback from people who don’t know me and weren’t afraid of hurting my feelings.
I posted several chapters of three different projects I’m working on. In the beginning, it was good! People liked things but gave good constructive criticism on how I can improve the story, make the characters stronger and less cliched, etc. I felt really good about the responses and energized to make changes and edits.
Then I got a review on my favorite story. The commenter didn’t say anything particularly harsh. They didn’t say I shouldn’t quit my day job nor that my writing was a joke. They didn’t say the story was dumb, in fact they thought it was an interesting concept. Not too bad, right? Until they started saying my dialog needed serious work and suggested how I could make some major changes to the main character. For some reason, the dialog comment really hurt. I consider the dialog one of the strong parts of the story and others have backed me up on that (without my prompting, I promise). I think it’s realistic and does a good job at showing the characters’ personalities. For this person to say, in not so many words, that it sucked, HURT. It put me in a serious funk and I did not feel like writing. I was second guessing myself, questioning if I really had any story telling talent at all.
Yes, it was a bit exaggerated and all drama queen on my part, but I was surprised at how hard it hit me when other comments didn’t cause the same kind of reaction. Logically, I know that not everyone is going to like what I write. I may not be up to award winning writing skills, but I know I’ve got something special not everyone has. I know that others have been very vocal in how much they enjoy that particular story.
So what do I do to keep such a funk from setting in? I have to thicken my skin. I have to remember that you can’t please everyone all of the time. I have to look for the good points and take the bad with a grain of salt. I have to remind myself that these people are trying to help and they may have a point but that most definitely doesn’t mean I suck or should stop writing. I think I’m going to leave little notes of inspiration around for myself. Feel free to use some of these in your own skin thickening, motivation pushing quests.
“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. William Faulkner”