people who live in steel houses should pull down the lightning

I have a friend who is a great writer. She’s quite inspiring to me because she actually works on her writing, unlike me, who thinks about writing, talks about writing, reads about writing, helps others with their writing… you get the picture. Not only does she have the tenacity to sink her teeth into her work, she’s also quite good at it. Her characters come alive. She builds a believable world. Dialogue flows. Ideas are original. She’s funny. What my friend doesn’t have though, is confidence. It’s crazy to me! I can stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and read from a work in progress just to see what reaction I get and have fun doing it. My friend, on the other hand, not only won’t read, but barely shares her (awesome) work. I just want to shake her! Ok. I know she’s reading this (yes, you!).

Here’s my advice to her and other writers who are testing the query and submission waters: I won’t tell you not to listen to agents or other people who aren’t kind. I’ll say  listen to them, pretending that they are kind, and see if what they are saying has any merit. If so, in your mind you can give them the finger when you thank the bitch for sharing. If not, forget about them. They’re not worth your time. Now get back to work!

What about you? Do you allow yourself to benefit from criticism even when it’s barked at you with fangs bared? Or does it have to come with flowers and ribbons attached?


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6 responses to “people who live in steel houses should pull down the lightning

  1. Maybe I’m a masochist or maybe my inner perfectionist is to blame, but I like my criticism blunt. Don’t dress it up in flowers and ribbons. Bring on the fangs! I guarantee they don’t hold nearly as much poison as those belonging to my own inner critic. 🙂

    • Oh my, the inner critic! That’s a whole blog post or 7 to write. My inner critic’s fangs are sharp, poisonous and go directly for the soft, white underbelly; and have the uncanny ability to hex me into inaction.

  2. Love the image of the steel house sizzling as the lightning strikes. . . I’m not crazy about full-fanged criticism, but I try to remind myself that, if the criticism’s out there, I may as well hear it and see what I can learn. Like calling for the reviewer’s comments after a grant is turned down–of course I don’t want to hear it, but they’ve made their decision, I’m better off knowing why so the next proposal can be better.

    • I wish I could take full credit for the image, but it’s one of e.e. cummings “jottings,” as is “hatred bounces.” I prefer my criticism gift-wrapped, in brown paper, but I’ll listen to it even full-fanged. I’m not always nice to those who aren’t nice to me though (at least inside my head).

  3. I agree! I was talking about editors and agents, but I think it’s an interesting question even if we were talking about in-laws or bosses. And thanks for the congrats. The name just feels right…

  4. If you’re getting criticism it means your work is being read and that’s a good thing! I get invaluable criticism from my writer’s group and love it. But maybe you were talking about editors? Congratulations on the newly named blog, Linda!