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Ohgodaspider
06-10-2012, 04:52 AM
I'm not sure where this post should go, but I figure this might be the appropriate section. If its not, then I apologize. Here goes nothing.

I joined here probably a week or so ago on the advice of a friend of mine. I've submitted two pieces of work, 1 of them 1.9k words, the other around 500-600. I've gotten 1 or 2 good critiques, but the rest have just been dare i say...shamelessly critical. I don't mean like "i didn't care for it. it was childish." I mean like "There were 6 punctuation errors in the first two sentences, I can't even read half way through." Followed by failing to specify what was wrong with the piece (other than punctuation.)

I need some reassurance to not give up on my writing, and some reassurance that not everyone here is a self aggrandizing charlatan. (I love that term).

Thanks Guys!

Topaz044
06-10-2012, 05:10 AM
Hello Ogodaspider,

Absolutewrite has a reputation somewhat for having harsh critics on-line. If it makes you feel better, I have a couple of books published and I still fully expect to be flayed alive whenever I submit my work here. But everytime it happens, I do usually learn something that helps my writing, which is the purpose here.

How much do you love your writing? Because if you believe your work is going to be a hot-seller and the best piece of fiction ever, then nothing anyone writes here should affect that opion. You will need that conviction from start to finish, and even after you publish a novel when the reviews start to come in. Does that mean your work is bad? No, because every single writer and successful novelist goes through it as well. :)

My advice is to take the critique as a learning experience, and if you do submit again you might want to read the guidelines first, which asks you to specify if you want a gentle critique or not.

rainsmom
06-10-2012, 05:10 AM
I haven't read your work. I can just give general encouragement.

First, mechanics like spelling, punctuation, and grammar are part of being a writer. The good news is that those things are completely learnable. It may seem silly that your critiquers are focusing on those types of things instead of the story, but for many of us, those things distract so badly -- or simply make it so hard to decipher meaning -- that it isn't worth our (volunteered) time. Good news: Fixing those errors is completely doable.

Second, the helpfulness of the critiques will vary. Different people focus on different things. Different people have differing levels of skill. Different people also have differing levels of tact. Read them all. THANK the people who offered them, whether you found them all helpful or not. And then, after a few days, reread and see what's helpful. You may be surprised.

Also, just some general advice -- you'll get more crits if you yourself crit. (You may be doing that. There may be others reading who are in a similar situation, but who don't critique.)

Finally, one thing you'll likely never get here is "Good job! Love it! Wouldn't change a word! You're a master!" People here don't blow smoke. They critique with the purpose of making the writing better. If you, deep in your heart, really just want encouragement, then this is not the right place for you right now.

Oh -- one more thing. Critiques suck. Criticism stings. Critique partners will tear your work up. Betas will tear your work up. Agents will tear your work up. Editors will tear your work up. There will be LOTS of rejection every step of the way. If you don't want that, then admit it, and write for yourself. (That's not a crime!) If you want to be a pro writer, get used to it, and learn to take *and learn from* the criticism. The point, as I said above, is to make the writing better.

It's about the WRITING, not the WRITER.

Ohgodaspider
06-10-2012, 05:15 AM
Absolutewrite has a reputation somewhat for having harsh critics on-line.

Okay, good. I wanted to make sure it wasn't because I had no skill.

Calla Lily
06-10-2012, 05:22 AM
ohgodaspider, I've read through the crits for the pieces you posted in SYW.

Trust me when I say that they are far from harsh. They are honest. Would you rather hear that things aren't working here, from other writers in a closed forum--or would you rather stare at a stack of form Rs from agents?

The people in SYW are here to help. They take time from their own writing and their non-writing lives to help fellow writers. We're all trying to succeed at the same thing--a book with our names on it on bookshelves, e and/or brick-and-mortar.

If you disagree with a crit, the only proper response is "Thanks for taking thetime to crit." Period. You don't have to agree with all of part of the crit. I've had my work shredded into quivering pieces in SYW, and after several deep breaths, I saw the difiiculties the critters were pointing out.

I state with confidence that my road to publicatino would have been a LOT longer without AW and SYW.

Perhaps you're not ready to hear crits of your work. Perhaps you still look on it as your baby rather than a business document that must be editerd and rewritten and re-edited till it succeeds in its purpose. (That purpose being good enough to part total strangers from their money. :)) That's fine. SYW will be here when you're ready for the next level of work.

But calling fellow writers--who are here trying to help another writer--"self-aggrandizing charlatans"? That makes it certain that I won't be using my limited crit time on your work. Good luck.

Ohgodaspider
06-10-2012, 05:29 AM
I'm glad to see moderators here are so professional.

Bailey_Montagne
06-10-2012, 05:31 AM
Sometimes you have to pull back and just practice more before asking for people to give you critiques.

I got to a point of being very discouraged with my stories, where I wanted to give up. I ended up spending a lot of time writing fanfiction before I felt ready to put my other work out there again. And you know what? I'm a better writer for all the practice and encouragement I got there.

There are many paths to learning to write. All of them involve practice--not all of them involve getting harsh critiques before you're ready.

*fistbump* Stick with it! :D

Susan Littlefield
06-10-2012, 05:37 AM
Ohgodaspider,

Welcome.


I need some reassurance to not give up on my writing, and some reassurance that not everyone here is a self aggrandizing charlatan. (I love that term).

So not nice, and the best way to push away the kind AW people. ;)

That said, it sounds to me like you received some valuable feedback. Keep an English manual next to you when you write. Learn the rules of of punctuation and grammar. Start at day one and read Learn Writing with Uncle Jim (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6710). Volume II (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154203&highlight=Learn+Writing+Uncle) is just as great. Study writing voraciously by reading anything you can get your hands on, including novels, short stories, and non-fiction. Doesn't matter what it is, read it.

Anytime you choose to put your work out there, hope that you get back some criticism that will help you learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your writing. In fact, red marks on your manuscript are a good thing. If all you get is fluffy smiley-face "Oh for goodness sake, I love it", you need to look for a different critique partner and/or group.

Finally, just keep practicing your writing. You can learn the skills you need to write your very best.

Best of luck!

cmi0616
06-10-2012, 06:15 AM
How much do you love your writing? Because if you believe your work is going to be a hot-seller and the best piece of fiction ever, then nothing anyone writes here should affect that opion. You will need that conviction from start to finish, and even after you publish a novel when the reviews start to come in. Does that mean your work is bad? No, because every single writer and successful novelist goes through it as well. :)


I don't know if I'd go so far as to say this, because I personally believe that self-doubt is a large and natural part of the process for any writer. I think writing, which is ultimately a very rewarding and enjoyable task, can also prove very frustrating a lot of times. It is perfectly normal for you to doubt yourself and your work in the way that you do, and what you need to do is just push on through. I wish there was better advice, I wish that there was more to it than that, but I don't believe there is. Just hold firm to whatever belief you do have in yourself, and push on through.

Also, if you are going to post works on the internet, for the entire world to see, then perhaps you should proof-read and do a bit of self-editing first. I know it's tempting to get feedback the minute you finish something, believe me, I've been guilty of it a few times before, but just keep in mind that the critiques might be less harsh if you did polish it a bit first. You said people were citing a lot of grammatical problems in your work, and while that does not validate their overly harsh criticism, it does mean that you are not representing your full potential as a writer to them. We want to read and critique you at your best, not after your first draft of a piece.

Hope this was helpful, and good luck :)

buz
06-10-2012, 06:36 AM
When you first open your writing up to critique, it sucks. It's hard. But it's supposed to be hard and it's supposed to suck. Learning anything new is the same, unless you are a supa-talented genius at the thing, which few of us are. If people tell you everything you did was awesome, that's not helpful. It's like when you have a wound that has scabbed over with some sort of nasty putrid foreign material still inside. You have to rip open the wound and scrub all that foreign stuff out and drain the pus, and that hurts and it's disgusting, but afterwards you don't have a pus-encrusted gangrenous appendage.

However, honestly, the attitude I saw on SYW was a little like punching the doctor for touching it. I almost deleted my crit after I saw the comments that had appeared while I was creating it. Then I decided that you probably just lashed out because this is new to you and it stings and it sucks and you haven't gotten used to it yet, and hey, we all say stuff we regret. (Also, it's not like my critiques are frickin' gold.) However, I would wager that the behavior you displayed will turn away potential critiquers of your work. And from this, you lose out. Significantly.

People are not there to make you feel good about your writing. They are there to make it good. They are there to try to make you genuinely successful in your writing. This involves shredding, bloodletting, and all manner of other hyperbolic beating sorts of words. Not all of it is great or spot-on, and you are absolutely free to ignore anything you want, but all of it is given in the spirit of helping a fellow writer, and should be received as such.

It's okay and normal to be pissed off or shaken at first--in private, behind your screen, where your cries of hatred remain silent to the world :D. But it's not cool to crap all over the people trying to help you. None of those people were self-aggrandizing charlatans. They were people with more experience who offered you sound advice. Every single one. Even the one who just said "slow down". Even the one who said "I couldn't read this because of punctuation errors." Maybe not the one who said "OH MY GOD IS THAT A SPIDER" but I'm sure that was said in jest. :D

In conclusion, getting critiques is difficult to sink into, and I think (hope) you just had an extreme reaction to the newness of it all, but it does get easier. And they are invaluable parts of the learning process. :D

Ohgodaspider
06-10-2012, 06:45 AM
When you first open your writing up to critique, it sucks. It's hard. But it's supposed to be hard and it's supposed to suck. Learning anything new is the same, unless you are a supa-talented genius at the thing, which few of us are. If people tell you everything you did was awesome, that's not helpful. It's like when you have a wound that has scabbed over with some sort of nasty putrid foreign material still inside. You have to rip open the wound and scrub all that foreign stuff out and drain the pus, and that hurts and it's disgusting, but afterwards you don't have a pus-encrusted gangrenous appendage.

However, honestly, the attitude I saw on SYW was a little like punching the doctor for touching it. I almost deleted my crit after I saw the comments that had appeared while I was creating it. Then I decided that you probably just lashed out because this is new to you and it stings and it sucks and you haven't gotten used to it yet, and hey, we all say stuff we regret. (Also, it's not like my critiques are frickin' gold.) However, I would wager that the behavior you displayed will turn away potential critiquers of your work. And from this, you lose out. Significantly.

People are not there to make you feel good about your writing. They are there to make it good. They are there to try to make you genuinely successful in your writing. This involves shredding, bloodletting, and all manner of other hyperbolic beating sorts of words. Not all of it is great or spot-on, and you are absolutely free to ignore anything you want, but all of it is given in the spirit of helping a fellow writer, and should be received as such.

It's okay and normal to be pissed off or shaken at first--in private, behind your screen, where your cries of hatred remain silent to the world :D. But it's not cool to crap all over the people trying to help you. None of those people were self-aggrandizing charlatans. They were people with more experience who offered you sound advice. Every single one. Even the one who just said "slow down". Even the one who said "I couldn't read this because of punctuation errors." Maybe not the one who said "OH MY GOD IS THAT A SPIDER" but I'm sure that was said in jest. :D

In conclusion, getting critiques is difficult to sink into, and I think (hope) you just had an extreme reaction to the newness of it all, but it does get easier. And they are invaluable parts of the learning process. :D

Thank you for your honesty. I will be sure to keep that in mind.

leahzero
06-10-2012, 06:47 AM
If you can't take people criticizing technical errors in your writing, you are not ready for critique. Pointing out errors in your writing is factual and objective. It's not personal. At all.

The fact that you're taking it personally and lashing out at people who spent their time trying to help you is highly off-putting. I certainly wouldn't waste my time on someone who only wants air blown in their ear, rather than constructive feedback and correction.

If all you want is encouragement, don't post in SYW. Post in Rejection & Dejection or one of the other non-critique forums.

SomethingOrOther
06-10-2012, 06:50 AM
I'm glad to see moderators here are so professional.

At some point, every writer experiences what you are experiencing right now. It's a very important--and painful--liminal stage all writers have to go through.

This is what happens:

You have a certain idea of your own skill level. You submit your work for critique, hoping to receive advice that will help you improve.

http://i.imm.io/sb1Y.png

But the advice you receive operates on a much lower level than you expected. It covers things you thought you already understood.

http://i.imm.io/sb2X.png

Your idea of your own skill level is something you've built up over weeks or months. It's not going to change so quickly without a fight. But it's a lot easier to form new opinions about people who are still blank slates to you than it is to change your own opinions about yourself. So this happens:

http://i.imm.io/sb99.png

Lots of shit.

But the shit will eventually be cleaned up. It might happen quickly--within a week--like if you got up and washed it all away with a powerful hose. Or it might happen slowly--over the course of a few months--like if you waited for a few rainstorms to pass by. And then you'll laugh and see that people weren't that wrong. It always happens that way.

http://i.imm.io/sbif.png

But if you keep your defenses up and try to remain steadfast in believing everyone is a self-aggrandizing charlatan, it'll be like you erected a glass shell around that column, and neither rainfall nor hose-water nor the tsunamic swelling of the oceans will get through and the shit will never go away and any chance of success you have will say, "Man, something really smells," and leave and never return.

It's close to impossible to be successful without experiencing this at least once. You might experience it many times over the years. I have. It sucks. But the important thing is you're not being swarmed by a bunch of mean-asses who all have large canisters of spider spray, even though it might feel that way.

Williebee
06-10-2012, 06:51 AM
In short, toughen up or take a hike. If you are really a writer, you'll do the former. I hope you do.

In SYW we pick the nits. Then we pick the nits that those nits carried in. When it's over, the only nits left are the ones you chose to leave in, the ones that represent your style, your point of view -- but not the grammar/punctuation/tense/head hopping/plot & logic hole nits. They are long gone. That means that, when you are ready and submitting for publication, you've got a fighting chance. An editor or agent won't have an easy reason to toss your work aside. They will have to either love your story or hate it. Either way, they'll respect the effort, and THAT is a win.

Take the criticism. Say thank you. Rip out the nits and bring it back until we can't help ourselves, we have to read it. That way lies success.

Good luck.

buz
06-10-2012, 06:58 AM
At some point, every writer experiences what you are experiencing right now. It's a very important--and painful--liminal stage all writers have to go through.

This is what happens...

(Can that whole post be stickied or in some other way immortalized...?)

Ohgodaspider
06-10-2012, 06:58 AM
In short, toughen up or take a hike. If you are really a writer, you'll do the former. I hope you do.

In SYW we pick the nits. Then we pick the nits that those nits carried in. When it's over, the only nits left are the ones you chose to leave in, the ones that represent your style, your point of view -- but not the grammar/punctuation/tense/head hopping/plot & logic hole nits. They are long gone. That means that, when you are ready and submitting for publication, you've got a fighting chance. An editor or agent won't have an easy reason to toss your work aside. They will have to either love your story or hate it. Either way, they'll respect the effort, and THAT is a win.

Take the criticism. Say thank you. Rip out the nits and bring it back until we can't help ourselves, we have to read it. That way lies success.

Good luck.

Thank you. I can feel it all ready.

justbishop
06-10-2012, 07:08 AM
Reassurance, huh? Well, from one AW newb to another, I can tell you that my WIP (which is the first thing of any real length I've ever attempted to write) is indescribably better for the advice that I've been given in the YA SYW forum. Yes, it hurt to read a lot of the things that were posted, but I went into the experience knowing that no one here--or at least no one I've come across--was out to just tear me down for the sake of being nasty.

In other words, assume the best of people. Even if you're wrong about them, you'll probably find something in what they've said that can help you to improve yourself. Good luck :)

semmie
06-10-2012, 07:34 AM
Ever boil a chicken?

Notice all the junk rises to the top? (Is it fat? I dunno. It's gross, is all I know.)

Yeah, it happens.

It's good.

Skim it off.

Keep writing.

ladyleeona
06-10-2012, 09:11 AM
I'm glad to see moderators here are so professional.

Calla is a professional. What was unprofessional was implying everyone you've come into contact with is/was a "self aggrandizing charlatan." Especially when they just spent time giving your work a critique. You know, when they could have gone outside and mowed the lawn instead.


In short, toughen up or take a hike. If you are really a writer, you'll do the former. I hope you do.

In SYW we pick the nits. Then we pick the nits that those nits carried in. When it's over, the only nits left are the ones you chose to leave in, the ones that represent your style, your point of view -- but not the grammar/punctuation/tense/head hopping/plot & logic hole nits. They are long gone. That means that, when you are ready and submitting for publication, you've got a fighting chance. An editor or agent won't have an easy reason to toss your work aside. They will have to either love your story or hate it. Either way, they'll respect the effort, and THAT is a win.

Take the criticism. Say thank you. Rip out the nits and bring it back until we can't help ourselves, we have to read it. That way lies success.

Good luck.

Williebee's post is pure gold. Keep writing and learning from SYW. Then go and apply it to your work. Then come back and get beat black and blue for another issue that you didn't even know was an issue. Then fix that. Then come back. That's how improvement happens--little by little. Hang in there.

Punctuation errors bother some people so much they'll stop reading. (If they lay the blame on your punctuation, that's why they stopped reading.) That's their prerogative. It's a relatively free crit. All that's asked is you participate in the forums, and honestly, if you want to improve, that's not even a burden. There's tons of interesting stuff going on here.

Old Hack
06-10-2012, 09:44 AM
It can be incredibly painful to receive criticism on your work. I think we all can agree on that one. And it's easier to blame the person who said the mean things about our work than it is to accept that our writing isn't as good as we thought it was. So how to gain the skill to revise our own work in a more painless way?

It's easy.

Help other writers improve their work.

Go to SYW and crit as many pieces of writing as you can. Do it thoughtfully and honestly, do it often, and do it a lot. Spend a month on this and then go back to your own work. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to revise it, and how much you know.

MacAllister
06-10-2012, 10:24 AM
Go to SYW and crit as many pieces of writing as you can. Do it thoughtfully and honestly, do it often, and do it a lot. Spend a month on this and then go back to your own work. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to revise it, and how much you know.

This might be the best advice anyone could possibly give you, at this point.

Yes, it's hard to be critted.

It's even harder to figure out when a critter is right, and when a critter just has different tastes and sensibilities than your intended audience.

But ultimately, neither of those problems is really as big an issue as it seems like, early on -- and by the time you have the level of control to deal with crits in a healthy and professional manner, it's REALLY not that big of a deal.

Doing a whole bunch of critiques? That will help you (and almost anyone) more than pretty much anything else I can think of -- especially at the stage you're at right now. I'm always a little surprised, in fact, that we don't have tons more people critting than asking for critique -- because in general you'll learn more from critting than from being critted.

Theo81
06-10-2012, 12:02 PM
AW is not your bitch.



The Mods are volunteers.



We have our own projects to write, our households to run, our jobs to do, our families to care for.

We are *not* your bitch.


I get that it's frustrating for you - you don't want to have your grammar mistakes pointed out. I mean, hey, its boring, man. Who cares about grammar 'n stuff?

We do. Agents do. Publishers do.

The fact is, if you are seeking publication, punctuation is a deal breaker. Your story could be the Next Big Thing, but I'll never know that because "She poured over the photograph's." would be enough to know I'm not going to read it.

Go out and Crit. Re-earn some of the goodwill you've just set fire to. You may even learn something - who knows?

RobJ
06-10-2012, 12:05 PM
I need some reassurance to not give up on my writing
Give up if you want to. :Shrug:

James D. Macdonald
06-10-2012, 05:28 PM
Who cares about grammar 'n stuff?

We do. Agents do. Publishers do.



The only reason that agents and publishers care is because readers care, and in publishing the reader is king.

semmie
06-10-2012, 05:33 PM
This might be the best advice anyone could possibly give you, at this point.

Yep!

I knew when I joined AW that I was too thin-skinned to submit my work to anyone for honest critique. I knew that it would make me cry (I'm not even joking) and would reveal how much I had to learn (discouraging). I still haven't posted anything to be critiqued.

But I've critiqued a few things (reminder: I need to do more), and it has made me aware of some things I needed to change in my writing, things I needed to tighten up, things I'd been blundering altogether.

Lots of great responses in this thread, Spider. Count it a blessing. :)

bearilou
06-10-2012, 05:59 PM
I certainly hope all those 'self aggrandizing charlatans' who responded to you will be looking at my writing when I put it up on SYW. I hope more 'self aggrandizing charlatans' here will do the same.

There's an immense pool of talent here at AW; many, many who have seen success in getting their books published.

I learned quite a bit just reading their critiques of your work. I know it was hurtful, putting yourself out there for people to comment on is scary and can be a huge blow when you're not told what you want to hear. There's a lot to learn, to use; there's a lot of wisdom to take away from their comments.

I have. Once it quits stinging, I hope you do, too.

kaitie
06-10-2012, 06:29 PM
I didn't crit your work (but you should see my crits. I'm one of those line-by-line folks and even good works end up with a lot of comments), but I wanted to come in here and give you some advice anyway.

I'm not going to rehash the "crits are hard" element. And I'm not even going to say "obviously you're a better writer and they're just being jerks." I haven't seen your writing, but it's possible that it's on the lower end of the scale. And that's okay. We all started there. Every one of us has written things that weren't very good. I still write things that aren't very good sometimes. Writing is a process, a skill that takes years to develop. If this is your first book, you're probably nowhere near the level you want to be, but that doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It means that you're still learning. Again, I haven't seen your work, and it's possible some people are just jerks (I've seen a couple of people in the SYW area over the years who think snark is the best form of criticism), but it's okay to have problems.

I wrote yesterday in another thread about this a little, but I had very little confidence. The tiniest criticism used to leave me completely convinced I was a no-talent hack. And if we're being honest, I don't have a ton of talent. I certainly am not one of those people who just picked up a pen and wrote an amazing book on the first try.

I let criticism stop me for years. I decided it meant that I wasn't any good and that it was pointless for me to pursue my dream. After a long time, though, I started to realize that the only way I was going to improve and get good enough to be published was to actually listen to others about my weaknesses and find a way around them.

Everyone has weaknesses. Everyone. We can always improve, and that's a good thing. I started a thread elsewhere about our learning goals. I am always finding things I'm not good at and finding ways to practice those elements in new novels so that my writing ability improves.

And yet even now, after years, I still get harsh crits, but they're also the best. One of my friends on here gave me a partial beta read once and included things like the point where she threw the book across the wall, and comments about how I was being too mysterious and it was annoying, and things like that. This was on a book that had been read by a few others and no one else pointed out many problems, certainly not to the degree that she did. While it was nice to hear, "Your writing is great," the critique that helped me make the most changes and turn that book into something promising were the difficult ones.

If you wrap your head around them the right way and see them as a starting point and a way to improve, eventually they won't sting as much anymore. You'll be able to take comments like your agent telling you, "These two characters are like cardboard cutouts. You need to give them more depth" and use it to find a way to improve the book. And trust me, when you can see those improved products, it's worth it.

I always say that when you get a tough critique, one that really hurts, you give it a day and cry about it, then you pick it back up and ask yourself how you can use it to make your work better.

bearilou
06-10-2012, 06:48 PM
To follow up on kaitie's excellent comment, I'mma just leave this here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY).

When I feel really low in the jug about my writing, I listen to this and it gives me hope.

Then I watch the Double Dutch Dog (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7fzQehxz_Q) and it makes me feel so much better.

kaitie
06-10-2012, 07:16 PM
I'm a fan of chocolate and/or Indian food when I'm feeling down. Then again, I'm a fan of chocolate and/or Indian food when I'm celebrating, too. I think the moral of the story is just I could eat Indian food and chocolate every day. :D

crunchyblanket
06-10-2012, 07:38 PM
When I posted my first piece in SYW - a piece I was personally very proud of and slightly in love with - it was ripped apart. Ripped apart in a very polite, precise way, but man, it was in tatters when they got through with it. I said thank you, then skulked off to a corner where I had a very long cry and swore copiously. That lasted around two days. Then I read the crits again, and cried some more, and broke some things.

But! Then something awesome happened. I read the crits a third time. Then I applied what I'd learned to my work. And it looked better. It read better, and it WAS better.

Later this year, my first ever short story is going to be published. If it wasn't for SYW, I sincerely doubt I'd have achieved that.

CrastersBabies
06-10-2012, 07:55 PM
When you get critiques at first, it's always painful. My suggestion is to leave your ego at the door here. When you submit because you're expecting a certain amount of congratulatory response, then you're writing for the wrong reasons, imho.

I also think most writers have had moments when they've been "sent back down the mountain" in a sense. They're riding on inspiration and giddiness and hearing critique is like having cold water dumped over their heads.

I've had these moments and they suck. Completely and utterly. But, when I give it time (a few days) and some thoughtful consideration, I tend to learn a lot from those moments. A lot. Transformation isn't meant to be painless. It's no easy trick popping out of that cocoon and becoming a badass butterfly. As writers, we go through many such cycles. It makes the reward on the other end all the more sweet.

lorna_w
06-10-2012, 08:07 PM
I remember this moment in my writing life where I was taking a class with a Really Famous Writer (RFW) and he was ripping my stuff apart in front of all these people who I of course wanted to be impressed with me and maybe even become my friends. RFW was actually jumping up and down and pounding on his desk and screaming at me, literally screaming: "Don't DO this. Just don't #$%^! DO this!"

And I sat there grinning, thinking, "man, I'm a real writer now." It was the coolest coming of age moment for me.

Edit. I never did that again. Three days later, I wrote in a single sitting the story that would become my first professional publication.

I'm always grateful I'm not a stage actor, where they say to you in front of an auditorium full of people, "naw, you're too ugly for this role." sheesh, talk about hard rejection.

Calla Lily
06-10-2012, 08:45 PM
Been on that stage lots of times, hearing things like "you're the wrong type" and "your audition just didn't have the right spark". You're right: makes you feel about 1/4" tall. And then you get to smile and congratulate the person who beat you out for the part you wanted. Then you walk away, kick something, sniffle, and gear yourself up for the next audition.

At least with crits it's (usually) just you and the laptop.

I've told this story on AW before, but when I finished my very first ever book, I sent it to a decent contest because I thought it was All That. For the entrance fee, everybody who didn't make the first cut got 3 crits by pros or experienced writers.

Several weeks later, I got a thick envelope with 3 detailed crits explaining why my book was definitely not All That. I threw the envelope into the recycle bin with a curse.

The next day I fished it out.

A few days later I opened it up and read them all. Then I read them all again. Then I reopened the book and started rewriting from scratch. I ended up rewirting that book 4 times, I think. It was my learning curve. It's trunked now. but I took everything I learned from those honest, detailed, painful crits and the next new book I wrote is the first one in my sig.

That's my story.

Filigree
06-10-2012, 09:35 PM
Heh, heh. Just wait until you get into senior level edits with a publisher. Apparently, I forgot about the new Chicago Manual style, and wrote it the older version by default. Now I've got to finish a line-by-line edit of a 98K mms this weekend, and do my best to keep my ego out of it. The house style is rather different that what I'm used to in reading, so I'm learning and adapting as I go.

On this round, I don't have the luxury of flouncing.

Alitriona
06-10-2012, 10:01 PM
It's hard but you have to grow a thicker skin and then thicken it some more, until those needles of doubt when you see a critique don't get through. Then you will be able to see those issues with your writing and story objectively instead of as a personal insult.

Once you can get to that point, your work will reach a whole other level of improvement.

When I first posted in SYW years ago I was told to go out and buy English for foreign speakers. English is my first language. I was hurt but I didn't for a second believe that person suggested it to hurt me. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't give up.

When the revisions start on my current WIP I will post in SYW again because I want my work to be the best it can be.

That's really what it comes down to. Do you want your work to be strong and the best you can produce, or do you want to be mollycoddled?

C. K. Casner
06-10-2012, 10:46 PM
Even the harshest crits have made me analyze my work and made it stronger. I am now more confident submitting to agents.


ETA: No one wants to hear of their shortcomings.

Ohgodaspider
06-11-2012, 09:55 AM
Wow everyone I am so glad to be a part of this community. I'd like to thank ALL OF YOU for showing me the truth about writing. I am soldiering on thanks to all of you. No matter how critical some of you are, that is exactly what I need to hear, harsh critique. Bottom line; if I don't hear whats bad, I don't improve.

I'd also like to apologize to any of you who I may have insulted when my work was first criticized. I'm sincerely sorry for it, it was completely unbecoming of me and uncalled for, not to mention incredibly indecent and disrespectful.

Again, thank you ALL!

pandaponies
06-11-2012, 10:13 AM
Spider, I'm so glad to see your turnaround here. I'd been stalking your threads from the beginning but was frankly too horrified to comment -- good on you for coming around and apologizing and being so gracious. Makes me really happy to see people being civil and decent on the interwebs where perceived anonymity tends to make people a little crazy. *big grin*



Bottom line; if I don't hear whats bad, I don't improve.
Exactly this. I am coming out of a state of defensive sensitivity myself. I used to be very, VERY thin-skinned and protective of my work because I couldn't separate critiques from "you are a terrible writer" in my brain. But recently I've come to realize that every single time someone specifically points out something WRONG with your work, they are showing you what to FIX -- and if you're FIXING things, your work is getting better! Personally I've gotten to where it makes me happy to get detailed harsh critiques, because the more honest the person is and the more they nitpick, the CLOSER TO PERFECTION the work will be after it's corrected! :D

It's impossible to look at your own work 100% objectively. Even if you set it aside for a few months and come back to it with fresh eyes, you'll still know what you meant to write, you'll know the direction the story is going in, etc. Feedback from complete strangers is so incredibly valuable, I just feel like we should be SO grateful to get it. And for free! ;D

Ohgodaspider
06-11-2012, 10:27 AM
Couldn't agree more! I emailed a piece to a friend of mine, and fellow writer today, and told him to shamelessly critique it. Then I worked on it, edited it, and had him shamelessly critique again. Felt amazing, and it was fun!

pandaponies
06-11-2012, 10:29 AM
*epic high five of epicness*

Ohgodaspider
06-11-2012, 10:34 AM
I remember one time, last year me and a fellow writer decided to get critical of each others work. He was mildly critical of mine, and said he enjoyed it, etc.

I read his piece, and to be frank...it was awful, I had no idea what was going on, I was met with terms like Gfythlngr and Hqinmlo in the first paragraph. I just couldn't read it, and when I told him that. He went on some mindless rage (like I did last night) and said "you just fail to understand the depths of my writing, i am the next tolkien, I will show you simpletons what a real writer is."

He went as far as to bring it up as a guild issue (we were in a mmo guild together), he was promptly dropped for incessantly harping (love that term) that "Nate is an awful writer, he's mean, etc." He just could not see the critiques I made, or the fact that he could improve his writing. After last night all I could see was that monster in me, the mindset that "everyone but me is a sub-talented mongrel."

The greatest tragedy here is that he'll probably never get better because he won't allow himself to get critiqued and see his faults. He is failing himself and that's very sad in my opinion.

Unimportant
06-11-2012, 11:53 AM
Good on ya, Spider, for giving it another go!

Ohgodaspider
06-11-2012, 12:15 PM
Good on ya, Spider, for giving it another go!

Thank you! Best of wishes toward you. :D

Stacia Kane
06-11-2012, 03:31 PM
Ohgodaspider, thanks for the apology; I'm sure it's appreciated by all. And I promise you that within a very short time of your continued participation here, no one will even remember that things started off a bit awkwardly. :)

It's hard to hear critique. We all understand. No worries.

G. Applejack
06-11-2012, 05:28 PM
Getting your baby ripped apart here sucks, but you know what's worse? Getting it ripped apart on Amazon when it's attached to your real name.

I have an internet friend who put his "masterpiece" through a crit site. It was ripped up pretty good, but he thought people just didn't get his work. He self-published on Amazon and... many of the readers were less than kind.

Better here, where you can identify and fix those bad habits before they go on to embarrass you in prime time.

CrastersBabies
06-11-2012, 07:37 PM
Glad to see you post some more, Spider. Was hoping you hadn't left. Good luck with everything. :D

Ohgodaspider
06-13-2012, 06:14 AM
Thanks you guys :) I'm already getting great useful critique on my newest post in SYM Fantasy/Sci-Fi

TumbleHome
06-13-2012, 08:59 AM
What a great thread! Seriously, one of the huge milestones for a writer (and a MUST for success) is realizing crits, edits and feedback aren't personal- but essential for learning and honing a craft. The act of writing is so personal that sometimes we can forget we all need a little of finessing if we expect others to read and enjoy it- not to mention pay for it!

Nothing wrong with having it sting, but it's always good to keep perspective and learn from the brutality. ;)