|“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” — Harper Lee|
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was stand in front of a room of strangers and try to inspire them. Did I mention those strangers were 13 & 14 yr olds?
I explained to my students on the last day of school my story: How I was once a little girl who dreamed of having my own classroom because I love school...I'm weird that way. I also told them how hard it was to stand before them and teach them writing. But I ended by telling them how welcome they made me feel and how kind they were. In the end, they inspired me much more than I inspired them!
Writing a book is almost the same thing: you put yourself out there in front of total strangers and hope they accept you and your story for what it is.
Boy is that scary!
I remember asking my editor to read The Dragon Forest II thinking I had hit it out of the ball park! I thought for sure he would be so impressed with my story line.
I was wrong.
He had ten...yes TEN...typed pages of constructive criticism for me to read through, AND he wanted to meet with me to go over each point.
Ugh. That was a bad, bad day.
Yet it was also a very good day because it was the day my story was saved...from myself!
I learned that day the true meaning of "constructive criticism" and how much it stings.
|Image credit: maineschoolswritingcenters.blogspot.com|
When I looked over my Dragon Forest II manuscript again after meeting with my editor that day, I realized how off course I was from my original idea. And I realized my editor's ideas were very beneficial to my story.
So, I revised....and revised...and...well, you get the picture.
My book went from 158,000 down to a workable 115,000 words. It was hard to cut out so many words, but it made for a much better story.
Then I sent my editor an apology email telling him how sorry I was that he had to read such tripe in the first place! But he told me, "That's the writing process..."
And he's so right.
|Image credit: www.joe-ks.com|
Bend, Don't Break!
After revising my book, I asked my beta reader to read the edited copy. It came back with stellar reviews from my target audience.
Yes! God is good.
I knew there and then that I was a writer. For the first time, I felt I truly understood the whole process of writing.
I rediscovered something about myself: I can bend without breaking!
I knew this before, I had just forgotten.
So much about being a writer is bending...
- Listening to an editor's harsh criticisms along with the heartfelt praises.
- Accepting the publisher's timelines instead of your own.
- Reading your beta reader's comments and suggestions with an understanding that they, too, want you to make a better book.
All this "bending" makes you stronger...just like a tree after a storm.
I hope this post encourages you to work through the constructive criticism and not give up!
Keep the faith...keep believing in your story...keep dreaming.
In the end, you'll not only have a better book, but you will be a much stronger person!
Your turn: How have you handled harsh criticism from your editor, readers, critique partners? How do you handle rejection?