(PS, despite the title, the figure in the image above is wearing a bathing suit. Just to be clear. )
Writing is hard.
Submitting is hard.
And criticism is hardest still.
Putting your work out there is like stepping into a naked modeling audition and waiting for the judges to comment. The spot lights are hot, their expressions cold and clinical, and there is nowhere to hide, especially when the comments begin. And God forbid someone laughs…
It may be worthwhile; it may be a necessary step towards your dream; but one thing it is not: Easy.
I say this because I think that many writing blogs, including mine so far, don’t want to dwell on it. We want to put a positive vibe out into the world, we want to be seen by future business partners (agents and editors) as upbeat, professional, go-getters that they would like to work with, and that they won’t have to coddle and wipe our tears. That we’re confident. Capable. People who pick themselves up and learn from failure, not let it derail them.
So let’s assume we’re all that. For the most part it’s true. But the truth is that being naked in front of a crowd is still hard, even if the judges are sincerely trying to help you. Unless you’re Brad Pitt (and maybe even for him).
So if you’re an aspiring writer and you find yourself struggling to write in the afternoon after a painful rejection or critique that morning, don’t be too harsh on yourself. The sting will pass. If it feels like you’ve just been told that your spare tire is showing, or you could do a little more upper body work, don’t worry. Don’t write off the advice, necessarily. Presumably you wanted it for a reason. Or maybe it’s just the price of getting your work out there. But if you find yourself standing mutely in the spotlight, sweat trickling slowly down your back, and your cheeks warming in embarrassment–
It’s okay. For Heaven’s sake; it’s okay. Take a breath, compose yourself.
Smile politely, don’t argue, thank the judges, and take their advice. Eat better and do the recommended extra upper body work. Or don’t, in the belief that someone else will find you beautiful just the way you are. It could well be true. Writing is a subjective business, with many genres and stylistic preferences, even between publishing houses.
But my point is this: you can be professional, talented, and headed for amazing things. And you’ll still experience rejection and critique (except for Brad). And criticism and rejection is hard.
It’s a spot that all writers find themselves in, sooner or later… From what I hear, both before and after publication.
If it helps, you’re not alone. And maybe it helps me to remind myself that I’m not either.
Here’s wishing success for all of us! (Even Brad. Even if he needs it less than most. Because I still like his movies.)
For the record, while this blog will remain positive and I have no intention on dwelling on every rejection or critique, or letting them derail me from accomplishing my goals, minor or major, I may link to this post once in a while.
Because some days are better than others.
This image was created for this post, inspired by a fast computer sketch I did while writing it. A bit different style, but hey, who says I have to be consistent?