There’s a saying, something about being your own worst critic.
As a rule, I don’t let anyone read my writing. I don’t have beta readers. I don’t ask for feedback or comments.
I write it. I read it. I touch it up. I send it in.
And, generally, I don’t read it once it has come out in an anthology.
Now, I’m an editor. That’s what I do for a living, aside from teach writing. I know how important feedback can be. I know the comments from a beta reader can be invaluable, and another set of eyes can catch mistakes you didn’t see.
I was asked today why that is, by someone who is more than willing to beta read for me. (Note: if you’re not sure, a beta reader is someone who critiques a piece of writing for you. They offer constructive feedback about things that might not be working for your story). And of course I needed to ponder it.
When I was young, I wasn’t so different. I would submit my work to competitions, but I wouldn’t share it with friends. And many years later, I called my ex to say I was upset I’d gotten a B on a writing assignment. Her response? “Well, you’re a B writer. You’ll never be an A writer.”
This is the first time I’ve thought of that conversation in years. But I think it had a profound effect on me. And now, in the midst of my PhD where I have yet to hear anything good about my writing in the two years I’ve been at it, I’ve become extremely unsure about my writing. Frankly, I’m so convinced it’s crap that I’m finding it difficult to write at all. But years ago I promised myself that I would get at least one short story published a year, and that means I have to write at least a few, so that I keep my writing and creativity going.
This year I’ve got at least two scheduled, which is nice. No one has read them, of course, other than the people I submitted them to.
Newsflash: I’m really, really sensitive.
No, really. I am.
And the thought of people I know, people I respect, people whose opinion matters, telling me my writing is shite, is devastating. The faceless masses don’t frighten me, because I don’t know them. They’re entitled to their opinions, and they most likely will never tell me what they think of my story anyway.
Today’s Question: How are you at taking criticism? About your writing, or anything else? Do you have certain people who read for you, or are you happy to share it all over the place?