Not me. God. I had the extreme privilage of being able to coordinate some writing contests this year. Up until last year, I'd only been an entrant. Then close to the end of the year, I was asked to judge. Since then I've judged several and you know, I had no idea HOW HARD it is. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but you want to be honest. Correction, you HAVE to be honest...or it's not doing the entrant any good.
That said, I'm really, really glad I've gotten some really scathing contest remarks. It's kept me mindful as I've made comments. As I've been praying for the entrants in the contests, I felt like God's been teaching me stuff. Stuff about my writing. Stuff about my heart. Stuff about my own responses to critiques. They say you have to grow a tough skin in order to survive this industry. But I'm not sure how exactly that happens. Maybe a combination of things helps. Maybe we grow immune to harsness, and actually, I've come to crave harder critiques from people who are brutally honest and don't hold back. Whammo. They let me have it. But these are people close to me who KNOW writing. I crave positive comments less, whereas before, I thrived on them. Oh, I still love them, but I'm learning to love the hard stuff more. And I'm just now beginning to really appreciate some of the really hard stuff I heard in the very beginning of this road when I KNEW NOTHING of the craft of fiction. Didn't know there was an art to crafting stories. I guess I just assumed that if you managed to finish a book then someone would buy it. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
In the beginning, those hard critiques made me cry, they made me mad at the person who was honest, because of course I thought they had to be wrong. How I wish I would have embraced those comments more instead of jerked back away from the sting. How I wish I would have thrown myself into what they were trying to get across instead of running as fast as I could. I so respect those people now and it's been interesting fielding comment concerns from the entrants I consider in my charge as coordinator. It brought back memories, and made me realize that I think God probably has alterior motives for each of us in this journey to publication. I think He's more concerned with the journey than the destination. I think contests and critiques are as much a test of our wills, our perseverance, our motives, and our hearts as they are a temperature check and gauge of where we are at this present time in the craft of writing.
I don't want this to be all about me. My ulterior motive for this convo is to get you guys talking. How do you deal with hearing hard things about your writing? How have you built your tough skin? What sort of critique do you find most helpful? The gentle easy ones which surround suggestions for change with positive comments...known as the sandwich method? Okay, talk away! I'm interested in knowing your thoughts on this.