Ya gotta get a thick skin

Writing is a personal experience unlike anything else I've ever done. Writing a story is pouring your heart and soul onto paper. It's almost a secret life. We authors sit alone, typing away, trying to craft the best possible prose and plot. Honestly, we all love what we've written. We know we have talent and we know it's a good story.

Now for the hard part. Someone else has to read it. What if they don't like it? Oh, what do they know, anyway. Our baby is perfect.

Having someone else read your work is important. After all, that's what you want, isn't it. You want thousands and thousands of people to read your work. So you have to start somewhere.

You have have your mother, your daughter or your best friend read it, but they love you and they are going to love what you've written. They'll try not to hurt your feelings.

Get someone who doesn't love you to read it if you really want to know if it's good. Tell them you want constructive criticism. Insist on it, and be prepared to listen. Yes, it hurts, but it this person tells you, "I didn't understand why the heroine did such and such." You quickly explain why.
No. No. No. If your reader didn't get it, you missed the mark as a writer. Other readers, editors and agents may not get it either.

Time to toughen up your skin and revise that beautiful baby. A gem is just a rock in the dirt until someone picks it up and polishes it.

I've off at a conference and won't be able to respond to your comments. Please forgive me.



Joan Vincent said...

It is both scary and wonderful to have others read what you've written. I've been lucky in that I get mostly constructive criticism and that is what I try to offer if called upon for an opinion. Your "Speed Trap" is wonderful Pat. Hope you're having a ball at RWA!

Roxann Delaney said...

You're right, Pat. A thick skin is imperative in this business. (So is paying your dues, but we'll save that for later. You learned all about that. ;) )

Not only is a thick skin needed when sharing your baby with people who don't love you--but of course everyone does!--it doesn't get easier. Contest judges aren't always as positive as they could be. Some are terrific. And then comes agents and editors. Once you get through the non-loving friends and a few contest judges, you hope your skin is thick enough to endure the rejections from editors. I say hope, because no matter how many rejections or sales you have, it will hurt to get a No.

Then there are readers, once the book is published, and they aren't always kind. Some are wonderful, and those should be held close to to the heart, but there will inevitably be some who are more than blunt.

Keep your mind open, along with thickening your skin. Most people are trying to help.

Penny Rader said...

It is super hard putting your baby out there for others to read.

My debut novel was recently released. Whenever someone tells me they bought and/or read my book, I stop breathing for a minute in anticipation of what they might say. Or not say.

Pat Davids said...

Thanks Joan,
Speed Trap was the most difficult book I've ever done. It just wouldn't gel. I missed my deadline but Steeple Hill pushed back my release date by several months to give me time to get it done. It will forever be my least favorite book, but I'm getting a good response to it.