Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

No Thin Skins

I'm still a relative noob when it comes to writing. Not a week goes by that I don't learn something useful from my friends in the OWG at Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld Forums. Today I got exactly what I needed: a good swift kick in the rear.

In a moment of weakness, I let some criticism get under my skin. Now I get criticism of all sorts from my OWG friends, some harsher than others. Their's never phases me, after all, it's not personal, they give of their free time to assist my development, and I'm appreciative of their efforts. It's kind of like getting whacked on the ass in a college fraternity and saying, 'Thank you sir, may I have another?'

Initially, I wasn't very appreciative of the Publisher's Weekly review I received as a prize for making through to the ABNA Quarterfinals. The editor used phrases like gauche, limited promise, apropos of nothing, and watered down. I was rather enraged. I fumed, stormed about the office, complained to my OWG mates. A good hour of the productivity was lost to my private little tantrum.

Then there was a cup of coffee, a meeting, some work that needed to get done. For a moment, I was lost in solving tax-payer funded issues. I did what a Field Grade officer gets paid to do: solve macro problems. When I sat back down in front of my laptop, my perspective had changed.

Years ago, as a Lieutenant, training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, I would attend After Action Reviews (AARs) following each engagement. The memorable rule of the AAR: No Thin Skins. Sometimes the truth hurts, especially when it comes from an anonymous source.

The rule still applies. It's not personal; you're only going to learn if you're will to take your pitches high and inside. As I've grown as a writer, my early inadequacies became glaringly obvious. I've known about the issues with my manuscript. The individuals who read the manuscript came to similar, albeit somewhat less despotic conclusions. The book I entered in the ABNA was completed in July of last year, months before my adventures in a writing group even began.

So I'm thankful for my anonymous professional reviewer. They confirmed the suspected shortcomings and helped me regain some of the perspective I'd lost while cramming in my myopic little writer's cave.

Given the impossibly small percentage of writer's that end up with their work on the shelf of a local bookstore, I anticipate many more of these insightful critiques. I'll survive.


D. B. Reynolds said...

Yep. It's difficult, and painful, to see sometimes. But every review makes your writing a little better.

Danielle La Paglia said...

The critiques/reviews hurt the most when they're right. Once we calm down and look them objectively, we can see that and apply the message going forward. Good luck with the rewrite! :)

Selestial said...

The little ones are easy to take, but every major negative stings. That's why most writers talk about getting their editorial letters, reading through them, and then setting them aside for a day (or week) to get some perspective (and shed some tears).

The reality of the situation is if/when we end up on bookstore shelves, we're going to deal with harsh reviews all the time. People online are BRUTAL. But the strong will survive because they get up, brush off their clothes and keep going.

Can't wait to see what the re-write brings :)

SusanKMann said...

Tough I can imagine. But you did so well to get to where you are. Can't wait to read what happens next. x

Michelle said...

But, you did really well for a noob! Better than most. And, remember, some of what is said is subjective, while some is very useful. The hardest part can be figuring out which is which!
We all grow as time goes on. This is just one of them.
And yeah. This biz isn't for the timid.

Angela Addams said...

I'm sorry that happened but you're right...you can learn from it and you will need tougher skin to make it in this business...that being said, temper tantrums are totally acceptable, as long as you keep them off your blog (unlike some aspiring writers I've encountered lately who post their rejection letters with names and many insults to boot directed at the agents...now that is the kind of tantrum you want to avoid! LOL)

Ken said...

I saw that blog, or one like it. It's pretty scary.

Jessica Peter said...

Good that you learned from it, and even better that you dealt with it. Though it may have been useful, the way the commenter put it sounds a bit harsh!