How did you handle your first real story critique? Me? Not so well.
My rhyming story was not too bad, I could see where there was room for improvement once I understood some things I didn’t know before. It will likely come back from the publisher with a rejection letter. But then another story, the beginning of a possible novel in which I had invested more, was critiqued.
Owie! To say I was a bit upset would be quite safe to say. 😦 I had thought it would receive ‘good story!’ and ‘well written’, ‘great ending.’ (I planned to build the story in the middle to make it longer and more involved.) Um .. well, what I was told was not exactly like that but close. Close wasn’t good enough in my mind. I was not expecting to be told to take out this and that, make those changes, and cut it down for submission to a children’s magazine. Nope, wasn’t expecting that.
So how did I handle my first real story critique? Somehow I overlooked that I was told something positive about ‘my voice’, about my characters being great, about the great message. Instead, I found myself getting out of sorts, sad (yes, I admit I actually shed a few tears), glum, discouraged.
My husband came home from work, and after a few minutes had passed he asked, “Okay, what’s bothering you?” with concern showing in his face.
“Why do you ask that?” I replied.
“Because you are the way you are when something is bothering you.” Very observant of him, I thought, appreciatively.
But then I said … “oh, I dunno …. nothing.” Not ready to talk about it.
And what did my concerned man do? “Oh …. okay then ….” and resignedly he walked away. He walked away! He gave up. Just like that. Hmmm
And what did I do? I thought, but didn’t say, “Humph! Okay then, don’t try again to find out. That was not the right thing to say!” *Sigh* (It is hard for men to know when to pursue and when to leave it alone.)
Oh, the games we play. Why is it so hard to just say what’s bothering me? Why does opening my heart to him feel so raw and invasive? Maybe because I was not prepared to deal with the emotion yet, and – feeling very disappointed that what I had written was not good enough – I had to work that through. Yes, I felt a little cranky about my writing being challenged, but I didn’t take it out on him, nor did I go all evening like that. Eventually, I looked at my story again and started cutting, making those suggested changes, seeing the potential in it.
Before I got to that place of facing the challenge, I asked myself, “Is this what I really want to do?” Write, write, write, face critiques, cut, change, add, start over. Am I cut out for this? Maybe I am. Is it worth finding out? Durn tootin’! I will keep at it until something happens. Either I will be successful in being successful or I will be successful in finding out I am no good at this. 🙂 Looks like a win/win situation to me! (Thanks D.E.)
I see now that in order to make my writing all it can be I have to let change happen. I have to accept the challenge. And I am willing to do that.
So, what’s your story about your first real story critique? How did you handle it and what has it done for your writing?
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂