I have to take a moment to give a huge thank-you to a friend of a friend. Drew, @thebookviking on twitter, read and critiqued a short story I wrote recently. The notes were helpful and the story is stronger than ever, but it was a bigger step for me than just editing.
Personally, getting the words on the page or doing my own edits is never hard. When I get on a roll and have a clear outline, I can pound out words like it’s second nature to breathing and, for the most part, I can identify the most shit parts of my writing and correct them. But that’s only the beginning of the process.
So far, the hardest part has been releasing my writing into the wild. I have no experience writing and lack any sort of standard or base to compare my writing skill to. It’s all new and I have no idea where to begin improving, because I don’t know what’s wrong yet. I’ve learned a ton about my bad writing habits just going through my novel twice, but I need more outside feedback.
This story was unique in that I actually sent it to a lot of friends. I received other good feedback, but then Drew offered to read it. I expected more of the same, tiny notes, but he fucking tore it up. There’s so many notes on the page, I was afraid to start reading them. It took me all day and part of the night to even open the damn file.
But that’s the obstacle I needed to overcome. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been terrified of getting edits and feedback. Even knowing that it’s what I need to learn, and it’s what my writing needs to be the best it can be, I was truly scared that I was going to take it as an attack. In the rational, logical parts of my brain, I can accept that it’s not, but that Irish anger is clinging to me for dear life, and it flairs when people tell me I’m bad at something. Also, everybody wants to believe they fart clouds and shit rainbows; I worried it would take more Big Boy Pants than I own to deal with edits.
But you know what? I sat down and addressed every single little note that Drew made in those 1000 words I wrote. It wasn’t even that hard once I got going. I didn’t get angry, I didn’t beat my head into the wall, and everything Drew suggested improved the story. To me, it was so much more than just the work to the tale. I proved to myself that I can take feedback and see it as helpful instead of malicious. Because getting upset with a writing critique is what you don’t do, dickhead.
So, Drew, thanks for the time you spent marking up the story. Every note and suggestion was helpful, and I think you’re kick-ass for doing that for me. Also, thanks to everyone out there who reads my work as I pound it out. You all keep me writing, and I hope to return the favor someday.