Can you spare a minute?
I’ve got to get something off my chest. I have some work I have to wrap up before things fall apart for me at the end of the month, but you know what? I’m going to take some time and vent here.
Hey, it’s my blog; my corner of the Internet. If you don’t like what I have to say (and you know who you are), wtf are you doing hanging around my page? Get off. Mind your own business.
That being said, if you don’t like bitching, move along, Sparky. This ain’t for the faint o’ heart, all right? I’m in full-on bitch mode. Click away if you want.
Still here? Fine, you’re in, and I don’t want to hear it. Matter of fact, I’m contemplating turning off comments, because I don’t want to hear it, or read it, frankly. You don’t have something encouraging to say? No problem. STFU, then.
I’ve been trying, over the last several months, to strengthen my prose and my skin to the point of being able to handle rejection like a grown-up when it comes my way. It’s going to come my way. I have to get used to it. And I want to be published, so that’s part of the package. You will be rejected, period.
I had a karate teacher many years ago tell me, “Don’t worry … you gonna get hit.” Same thing here. Don’t lose sleep, li’l buckaroo — you’re gonna get hit, period. Rejection letters are coming.
So anyway, in order to try and develop a thicker skin, I’ve been trying to expose myself to people who aren’t in the habit of telling me how great I am. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but over on my deviantART page, and to a lesser extent on my fiction blog, I get a lot of positive reinforcement. I need it — we all do. You’re a liar if you say you don’t. And I’m grateful for it. I can’t tell you how much folks like KnytStalker and Sherri and Ben and Bryce mean to me. They’re my lifeline, my shot of good feeling when things get so hard in every area of my life. And they do get hard. Don’t worry — you gonna get hit.
But I’ve been trying out various places to see if there’s something I missed, some nuance to being told you suck that strengthens a writer’s ability. I got a recommendation from Bryce on a couple of sites and tried them both (Bryce, coincidentally, joined those same sites but hasn’t done anything with them for months, which I find amusing, because it means he has more of a life than me). They both are supposedly feedback oriented sites — that is to say, you give and receive feedback on your writing from the other authors on the site.
Can you see what’s wrong with that system?
In case you can’t, let me offer you an analogy I’ve recently read in my new book (which I love), On Writing Horror, by the Horror Writers Association. In it, four new (at the time of compilation) writers offered their insights and thoughts on the industry and genre in one of the chapters. The interviewer asked them what advice they think is wrong that’s being offered to new or unpublished writers. Do you know what one of them said?
He said joining a critique or writer’s group is bad advice.
I can hear you unpublished but agented (again, you know who you are) authors-to-be either gasping or groaning. Or maybe I have gas and it’s my stomach. I don’t know. What I do know is, most writers I’ve talked to would consider that bit of “insight” stupid and heretical. Many, many writers maintain they’re the most important developmental tool a writer can get.
But hold on — let me get to that analogy I told you about. The basis for his statement went something like this: