One of the things you learn quickly when you begin to write is that it is a very solitary existence – just you, your thoughts, and a blank page.
As your story and your characters come alive, they become part of your being. They live and breathe. Act and react all through your choices. I’m not ashamed to admit it, it’s true, your characters become your children. You love them fiercely but at times they frustrate you as well. But still, they are all yours.
So just like your children, you are loathe for anyone to criticize them. But in order for your stories to have any merit, they need to be reviewed, analyzed and at times, dare I say it – pulled apart, by others. Your opinion accounts for a lot, but you need other readers to give you perspective on your work.
I have been writing for some time but have rarely put my work out for others to judge (I don’t count family and friends as objective readers). So this week, for the first time, I jumped into the dreaded “critique pool” so to speak. I was nauseated and exhilarated all at the same time as I waited for my peers to begin discussing my work.
I vacillated between “they hated it” and “they loved it” frame of mind for an entire hour before it was my turn in front of the firing squad. And, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. Yes, a couple of comments stung (admittedly a lot) but for the most part what the group had to say was right on target. I have become way to close to my story, as is true of many writers, and I couldn’t see it for its flaws anymore.
As I have had more time to reflect on it, I wish I had dived into the critique process earlier. It was like a breath of fresh air, opening my manuscript to many new possibilities and ideas – ones that I would have never have discovered on my own. So I take this experience as a positive one and realize as I open my work up to those, whose opinion I value, it can only get better with time.