By Vicki H. Moss, Writer for Southern Writers Magazine
I recently critiqued a writer’s manuscript and when we later met together, was surprised she had been miffed about my critique. “But that’s okay, I allowed the anger to push me on to rewrite.”
Miffed? Angry? Really?
I said, “Email critiques are tough. No facial expressions and you can’t hear the tone of voice. Strictly cold, hard copy. And remember writing is subjective.”
She grinned. “I liked the part where you wrote, ‘Take what you need. Throw out the rest.’”
Baffled, I retraced my steps and reread my notes. I didn't see anything to get miffed over.
I thought, Writing is indeed subjective. Like room decorating. Ten people are given an assignment to take a room with white walls and no furniture and decorate. Ten talented people given the same assignment will use various colors and furniture. Ten rooms will turn out beautiful, just different.
Writing is like that. We might be writing about the same subject but because of our cultural backgrounds and life experiences, we're going to see the subject in a different light or perhaps from a different angle.
And grammar and punctuation and verb tense errors must be fixed. No brainer.
After the meeting, I gave this writer more thought. She was a newbie when it came to critiques. I recalled my first critique. Horrid experience.
I dragged my body and bruised mind to my room. No longer an ego to shatter. “And I paid for this?” That night I vowed to the Macy’s Hotel Sheet Collection that I would become a better writer. I felt wrung out like a dish rag and was too exhausted to punch my pillow. But I was determined to grow a tough skin. No one could tell me I couldn't get published one day and I couldn't write something that would sell. A couple of months after that, I sold my first story. Then another. And another.
The take away here is:
1) Don’t stress over critiques. Writing is subjective.
2) Take it like a man. Bang your head against the walls in a padded room if you must.
3) Eat ice cream and cobbler. Then cake. Throw on some Cheetos.
4) Develop a thick skin.
5) Revise. Revise. Revise. Repeat.
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