Today's Tune: Cheap and Cheerful
I think, as a writer, I've been pretty lucky. I've never had anyone tell me I'm terrible, or that I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing. I've never had anyone discourage my writing as an unworthy endeavor.
In fact, quite the opposite. All my life, my writer-self has been nurtured and encouraged. My parents always lavished me with praise and told me to keep going. Hell, my dad knew I was going to be a children's book writer before I did. Friends told me my work was smart, witty, funny, awesome, and any other positive adjective you can think of. My teachers and professors gave me A's and positively raved about my creativity and mastery over words, all the way up through university. I could fly through English courses barely batting an eye.
So you can imagine my feelings of confusion and betrayal when I was turned out into the "real" world of writing, only to find that many people aren't all that impressed with me.
Not that I'm terrible. I'm not. I'm pretty good, actually. And I enjoy criticism. It helps me strengthen something that was just "pretty good," but not great. It took me a little while to get to this point. Sometimes I still struggle with it.
This is a lesson we all have to learn - balancing our believed greatness with our real greatness. Learning that all the best-intentioned praise and encouragement in the world doesn't mean we're natural Faulkners and Shakespeares. Even with natural talent, we still have to work hard to craft our skill into something that will make it in the hard, cold world of publishing.
But we can't thrive on criticism alone. We need that balance of encouragement to keep us going through the "I suck so bad" moments. We just have to be so careful it doesn't go to our heads.
How do you find the balance between praise and criticism? Which parts do you find the most difficult to handle? Can you still hold your head high and see the good things about your writing, even in the face of the red pencil?