Stephen King has been quoted as saying, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” I wholeheartedly agree with him. I am in awe of the power that books hold over me! The stories written by my fellow authors sweep me away; they make me feel both sadness, and great joy and they give me the vacation that I need from myself! I have been privileged to work with some very fine authors of late, and because of their input, my own work has improved, in my humble opinion. It is always a challenge, trying to see your own work with the eye of the reader when you are the creator. Every word is lovely to you, and each phrase has magic. They are your children and are perfect in every way.
Just like my featured image this week, sometimes your beloved child is sloppy, disorganized, and poorly phrased. (Not you, Dan – though you are posed so appropriately in Tom’s photo). That is why you must develop a thick-skin and accept the honest criticism of your first-reader. You asked for their opinion, and you must accept the bad with the good.
Each time I get feedback I get both negative and positive comments, and I put that energy to work to make the adjustments that my reader has requested. If I didn’t honor their effort in reading the first draft of a tale, I would be writing purely for my own pleasure, because no one else would enjoy my work.
I have been reading the works of my fellow authors and have found that the people who can handle criticism are the people who succeed, because they don’t take it personally.
When you think about the number of rejections on well-known books that well-known authors have received before being accepted for publication it proves to me that a hard-shell is the first requirement for growing as an author.
Take this phrase, from my current work in progress:”Because of the traumatic experiences of Zander’s childhood they habitually worried over every aspect of his life as if he were their birth-child, and in truth that is how they felt about him.” Thomas A. Knight suggested that a better phrasing would be:”Because of the traumatic experiences of Zander’s childhood they worried over every aspect of his life as if he were their birth-child, and in truth that is how they felt about him.” Thomas pointed out that my use of ‘habitually’ made the sentence cumbersome, and I agree with him.
More importantly though, when I am re-writing this, I will be looking for adverbs that are not necessary throughout the entire manuscript. I will still use adverbs, but like cayenne-pepper, I will be sparing with them. The truth is, we don’t come into this profession fully formed and ready to publish a best-seller, although we all think we are. Writing is a triathalon, and we develop the skills and abilities as we go. That personal growth as an author is evident in each successive work, just as an athlete’s strength and stamina grow with each day of training.
With every book or short story that I write, I gain a better perspective on what my readers want from me. I am so grateful for every person who has helped me along the road, and I will never stop listening to you, because I will always need your conversation and companionship and help while I am on this crazy journey.