Saturday, October 9, 2010

THICK SKIN


You may or may not know that I'm a aspiring romance writer, unpublished at present, but hoping to one day find my words in print. As part of the learning process, I submit my work to different contests, mostly to receive professional feedback on my work.

Today I received two judges' comments on my latest contest entry, and the extreme dichotomy of their remarks makes me wonder how we writers do what we do. The only way is to develop a very Thick Skin.

Here's why: The first judge loved my entry. Almost every comment she wrote was glowing praise, happy faces, loved this! etc. At the end, she wished me well, and felt this was at a publishable level and she looked forward to reading the rest of my story one day soon. Bubbles of elation, inner happy dances - what every writer wants to hear!

Then I opened the second one. I had a suspicion this one wouldn't be so good, otherwise, I would have been a finalist for sure. Nothing however prepared me for the complete demoralization contained within. Not one good comment. Everything was over-the-top negative. She might as well have told me never to write again. And believe me, if I had been brand new (which she thought I was), and hadn't some contest wins and high placements under my belt, I probably would've quit writing then and there!

How dare someone be so cruel? I have also been on the opposite side of the fence and have judged several contests myself. And, yes, I have had to read some entries that I hated. But I have tried my best to always give some positive feedback first and then give gentle suggestions on improvement. It is not up to me to end the dream of some new writer. No one can ever please all the people. For example, millions of people LOVE Stephen King. I, do not. As a judge, I realize that if I don't care for an entry, someone else will probably love it. So who am I to say this is not a viable story?

A judge's duty is to point out the good and the bad in a professional manner. There is no room for rudeness or cruelty. Most writers I have met on line and in person have a very sensitive side. Most creative people do. To bulldoze someone's dreams is not acceptable.

The only thing left to do is vent (which I'm doing here) and get on with the business of writing. Oh, and maybe stick my tongue out, just to feel better!

To all my fellow aspiring writers, may we lift each other up in encouragement and help heal the wounds of rejection when they come. BOY, DO THEY COME!

3 comments:

Keli Gwyn said...

Sue, cyber hugs to you on the harsh feedback. I hope you are able to focus on the positive comments from the other judge. I've read your writing, and I KNOW you have talent. I'm eager for a savvy agent to see that, snap you up, and sell your story.

Julie Jarnagin said...

I agree with Keli. I've read your work, and I know you're good. Maybe God is just using this to prepare you. He's building up that thick skin for all the revision letters in your future :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks, Keli & Julie!

It's nice to have such wonderful supporters!