Paper Thin Steel

Getting a bad review sucks.

No matter what it always sucks, but it also comes with the territory of being a writer. You put your work out there for others to have at and sometimes you get hit where it hurts.

I’ve started to look at writing as an almost physical thing. You carve off a piece of your skin and blood and craft it into something with its own legs. Other people help shape it too, editors, beta readers, publishers, etc. all work to turn this ball of your flesh into something that can live outside of your body.

And then you give it a kiss on the forehead (or a swift kick in the butt) and send it into the world. You help guide it, try to get it into the right hands, and hope that it won’t wander down any dark alleys, but sometimes you watch your little crafted piece of skin get filleted and left for dead in the gutter.

And then you start the process again with a new hunk of flesh.

I’ve always been fascinated (and struggled) with that line between being confident enough to not let sharp comments cut too deeply, but still able to listen to sometimes painful criticism.

Spending almost 5 years in creative writing programs in various colleges definitely has helped me build up a thicker skin than I had when I was 15 and finished writing my first serious attempt at a novel and threw it away when a friend was harsh on it.

But there are still days when those reviews dig deep and twist little barbs into my skin. And there are other days where I put my nose in the air and think that no one could possibly critique my work (those are far less frequent though).

I’m still trying to find that line between paper thin where everything cuts deeply and being steel where nothing gets through (save from things with serious and explosive force).

How do you handle it?

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1 Comment »

  1. Jeroen Steenbeeke Said:

    We are human (at least I’m fairly sure about that part), so we make mistakes, and we can’t please anyone.

    Our work isn’t perfect, and we can’t possibly please everyone. Negative reviews do happen. Some of them are fair assessments. Some of the aren’t. A random few make no sense at all.

    How do I handle it? Re-read the positive reviews, and remember the goosebumps I felt when I wrote the climactic scenes.


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