Friday, March 25, 2011

Going Overboard

So, I entered a blogfest in which you post the first 250 words of a story. (You may have read the entry earlier this week.) I got some pretty good feedback on it. Many people said, "You just need to tighten it up a little and it'll really pop." And then there were a few comments that seemed to say, "You're doing this wrong. Try harder." Granted, that is not what was really being said, but that's how it felt.

I was talking to my husband about it and told him I needed to start over on the whole thing. He said, "Aren't you going a little overboard? You don't have to do anything, if you don't want to." And you know, he was right.

A lot of the time, my first reaction to criticism is to think that I'm not good at anything. I'm obviously missing the boat. The story has started in the wrong place. I need more of something to make it better. And I want to scrap everything good and meaningful and try to make it into something more acceptable.

What is it about this profession that makes us rely so heavily on the opinions of others? Maybe it's the isolation. Maybe it's the lack of visible success. I don't know. What I do know is that I have to do this for myself and not for what other people think. Does that mean I don't listen to criticism? No. Does it mean I need to trust myself a little more? Yes.

So, friends, do you go overboard like me? How do you handle criticisms?


Stephanie McGee said...

When something gets critiqued, I don't do anything with the crits for at least a day or more.

Whatever sticks in my head is what I need to address. Because those are the ones that will really help and not hurt the work. Those are the ones that I need to pay attention to. If a comment makes the characters in my head start creating the scenes themselves, then it's worth looking at. If not, then why risk damaging the plot?

Anita said...

Hi Kayeleen! I followed you over from Mother. Write. (Repeat).

Stephanie above is VERY wise in her advice. Being in a crit group has taught me to learn to listen to my gut. Though sometimes it sure is hard to silence those niggles when someone has planted something in your head. ;-) But I think it's very important that we learn to differentiate between what will help the book or what will hurt it before we lasso an editor. It builds up our assurance so even in the face of an editor we can stare them down and say, "No, sorry. That's not what's best for the book." This is all training for that.

Great post! And how cool that you write YA fairy tale retellings! I've written a YA Alice in Wonderland spin off. So we're kind of like genre sisters. :-)

Myrna Foster said...

Ha! My older sis just asked me if I'm one of those writers who will never be happy with her work, and it made me think. I can't please everyone. I need to figure out what I want from my stories and make it happen.