I was chatting with a good friend yesterday and asked her about her current WIP. We were talking, and she told me something about another project — one she has in an agent’s hands right now — which sort of startled me a little. Not only that, but it made me stop and think about my own writing in a different way.
Basically, she gave herself a pretty harsh assessment. She didn’t do it in a self-deprecatory way, but she was really honest with herself about the piece. The words she used were springboards to tell me about how she sees her newer work, and indicated her growth as a writer between the two pieces. But her description was harsh enough I wouldn’t have felt comfortable giving it to her … or to anyone else for that matter. (Most of this is because I’m not as savvy with the publishing industry, though, not because I’m not an honest critic.) I squirmed reading her statement, but later on, I wondered about my own current body of work.
I know I can look back on things I’ve written before and see growth. I know some of the stinkburgers I’ve written should never see the light of day, and thank God, they haven’t. I’ve been rather proud of my current work, though. Not because it’s the next literary explosion, the next Harry Potter phenomenon or anything. It’s just because I’m pleased with how it turned out, how it’s turning out, and how the editing process is improving it. So I started wondering about my ability to see my newer work objectively.
My friend left me awash in admiration of her ability to state so bluntly what she thought of her work. There wasn’t a sense of false humility, of saying something akin to what Eeyore would say about his writing. She was just looking at it objectively, and speaking about it objectively. The lack of coddling or barbs in her statement make its naked truth more powerful to me.