The Independent Publisher
blog, publishing, indie
#2 Handling Criticism
At a recent Writer’s Club meeting a fellow writer handed me a few pages of his novel and asked me for a review. He demanded I give it to him straight. I read the pages, said it seemed like a good plot even though Sci-Fi is not my genre. I pointed out that he had misused ‘there’ and “their” throughout the chapter. (I don’t recall the exact examples but it would be something like “They parked there car right over their.”)
His mouth dropped open, eyes widened and he snatched the papers out of my hand staring at them in disbelief. As he turned away he looked back and said, “That’s just your opinion.”
I replied, “Mine and that of Daniel Webster.”
As he sat he asked, “Who is Daniel Webster?”
I did not do this in public. It was a private conversation. I can only guess what caused his outburst. However, I relay this story to anyone who asks me to review his or her work.
If you don’t like the answers, stop asking the questions.
1. They’re, There and Their – Loose and Lose - To, Two and Too – Your and You’re: it’s not just my opinion. Review your work for common grammatical errors. You can find lists of them by googling Grammar Police: 30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making
2. One can only imagine what bestselling author, Richard Ford, thought when he read: “it suffers from a lack of compelling action and an emphasis on Bascombe’s dry meditations that obscures and minimizes the complex domestic structure the author initially presents.”
3. All writers, sooner or later, have to face criticism. It's the nature of the business. The criticism comes from your critique group, an honest rejection letter, an enraged reader or your mother-in-law. The critics are ever present and can wreak havoc on your self-esteem. Here are some thoughts on criticism that have helped me develop a thick skin over the years.
In fact, Ford got so angry about the review that he famously took one of Hoffman’s books and shot it full of holes. At the time, two tepidly received novels plus Hoffman’s negative review, Ford’s career looked to be in the toilet.
Of course, that’s not how it turned out. The Sportswriter is today considered a classic, and Ford is a well-known author.