It Starts with an F

Did I ask for your opinion? No? Then why the hell are you giving it to me?

I handle unwanted critiques very poorly. I take them as personal attacks on my person. It doesn’t matter what the critique is about, if I didn’t ask for your opinion, don’t share it with me. ¬†Unless you’re telling me that I’m awesome, then by all means, please continue.

“I’m sorry that you feel that way,” is my frequent response when somebody criticizes one of my creative endeavors, especially when it’s in the early phases and I didn’t ask for an opinion.

I’m a bit more gracious–with most people–when it comes to critiques that I’ve asked for. Usually with my writing if it is being critiqued it’s because I sent it to somebody and asked for their opinions. I want them to tell me what they liked. But even more importantly I want them to tell me what they didn’t like. But don’t tell me you didn’t like something if you’re not prepared to tell me why it didn’t work for you. Because otherwise it will go right back to feeling like an attack on my baby and therefore also on me.

I haven’t ever received feedback from someone I consider a writing peer. I’ve received feedback from my parents and from some of my friends. But while one of my moms has done some writing, to my knowledge she hasn’t written any novels. My friends that have read and critiqued my novel are not writers themselves.

Other than that, most of my experience with being critiqued comes from writing classes. Yes, I received feedback from the professor, which was typically insightful, but if you recall from a couple weeks back, I work in genres. I’ve found that most college level courses are not geared toward genre writers. Thankfully, I never encountered a professor who outright discouraged genre writing. However, it did mean that I didn’t usually take the advice of my classmates very seriously, since much of their feedback, like mine had been for them, revolved around the fact that we didn’t much care for the other person’s preferred genre.

I am a bit nervous about having my work critiqued by my peers. Despite my friends assuring me that they love my writing, I have my doubts about it. I know I could be better. I don’t know how I’d handle being told by somebody I respected as a writer telling me that. Still, in order to grow, it needs to happen. But before that happens, I need to get a draft of my novel written that I’m comfortable sharing with people.

Hopefully this time next year I’ll be able to tell you how I deal with receiving rejection letters. Right now, all I can tell you is how I expect I’ll react when I receive my first one.

I’m going to cry. I’m going to crawl under my blankets and cry.

And then I’m going to say a bad word. And as Jennifer Lawrence would say, it starts with an F.

Then I’ll get back in the saddle and try again. Because I’ve only ever been thrown from a horse once. And I landed on my feet about a foot away from the fence. And then I cried. But then I got back into the effing saddle and went on with life.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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