Someone debating the validity of your Genius.
How dare they, you ask??
The greatest gift a writer can get (besides cash or liquor) is honest feedback on his/her work.
How many of you have been writing since you were in high school or earlier?
How many were told they were brilliant by English teachers and/or relatives?
And how many of were unpleasantly surprised later in life to find out that ... yeah, not so much?
Welcome to the life of a writer.
That twirly feeling in your stomach is the beginning of a new and wonderful thing called Self Awareness. It is this discomfiting understanding that your first drafts are crap that will set you apart from the other wannabes and make you shine. Trust me :). It's true!
I was that kid who was told by all the teachers that everything they write might as well be inked in unicorn snot and angel tears because it's so amazing, and so thought (of course) this was true. Embarrassing, I know.
I very clearly remember my first week in college. There was an online poetry critique group that you could submit to, so of course I sent my Pearls of Awesomeness over, expecting them to praise me, tell me how amazing I was, and then ask me to tear their lesser works apart for them.
I'll never forget what happened next. They gave ME criticism! My themes were vague. The endings of my sentences weren't snappy enough. I was wordy. I was wasting words... Needless to say, I almost had a heart attack.
"But... I'm brilliant! Everyone says so!" I thought, shaking my fist at the computer screen.
This was when I first wondered if maybe my gradeschool teachers were liar-pantses, and I had a lot of work to do after all.
Thank goodness for criticism!
Without it, we would never know our shortcomings and would have no clue how to recognize them on our own. Criticism is the mirror that tells us when we have spinach in our teeth.
There is a theory that goes something like this: Competence is inversely proportional to confidence.
Have you ever noticed how the people who are worst at something are the ones that think they're the best? Think karaoke. Think middle-school poetry. Think... William Hung from American Idol. This is absolutely true for writing as well. The people that don't think they have any room for improvement are the ones who suck the most. They suck, because they never realize they have room to grow, so they simply don't bother on improving themselves. These are also crazy people.
Let's face it. Even Shakespeare probably sucked at first. He and Christopher Marlow probably had a critique group and helped sharpen one another's skills.
I guess my point through all this rambling, is that learning to accept and even love constructive criticism has made me a vastly better writer. I learn more and more each day, and crave feedback that can shine a light on something I've yet to learn. Hooray for people who care for me enough to tell me the truth :). I love you all!
There is a great discussion over at author Nicola Morgan's blog about when to either let your WIP die, or when to give it CPR and revise. I'm quoted there talking a little bit about my own journey with LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, which is very cool! If it weren't for the couple of rejections I received, I never would have gotten critiques, never would have revised, and wouldn't have this shiny, sparkly new version that I swear is 10X better than I ever thought it could be.
Criticism is a gift :).
Do you treat it that way?