Receiving criticism isn’t easy. It’s tough, really, really tough.
Despite my feisty exterior, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and it is the biggest downside of writing for public consumption. It is as if you have grown a baby for nine long months, given birth, and held it up to the world to view – only to be told it is ugly, it is lacking, it is…less than it should be.
Now obviously, you cannot please everyone. You simply cannot. We are all different, all wired with different interests and different views, and those inevitable hot buttons.
So when I posted on Facebook the other day that I needed reviews, I knew I was opening the door to criticism. I crossed my fingers and hoped I would get a few more reviews for my various books and I hope it inspired some to read what I had written if they hadn’t already, to take a few moments and post a review of one of the books. And I’m expecting that it will be a week or two before a few more roll in, but I was excited to see one come in today.
Until I read it. The review suggested that I ‘edit the book a little.’
Because I have edited the book in question, multiple times, and not just me, but a proofreader who makes a living editing small and large jobs. I will admit I took a few indulgent moments to be resentful, to think of uncharitable responses, and to point out (several times) to the empty office that, “editing is effing hard to do and damn near impossible to catch every last mistake.”
And while I dearly wish such a comment had NOT been put on Amazon for all to see, I finally came to recognize the worth in the criticism. I hate typos, grammar, and other editing/writing inconsistencies too. I was in spelling bees as a child and am rather anal about such things. So the idea that my book, my baby, still had them, and enough of them to be commented on was the real issue I was stressing over.
It took a while, but I turned it into a positive.
Do my books need better editing? Well, yes, obviously they do. So I’m going to try this idea on for size. When I finish with a book and begin the editing process, I plan on doing a fast one-through myself. Checking facts, correcting typos as best as I can, and the next round will be reading it out loud to my husband. A lot of typos go unnoticed by writers because we know what we are intending to say, and our eyes automatically skip crucial sections, fill in missing words and miss those funky little typos. Reading the words out loud will help check everything, because while my mind might automatically fill in wording as I am reading, I won’t automatically substitute the right words when reading the piece out loud. I’ll catch more of the mistakes. This will also accomplish another positive end…my husband will get to enjoy reading the story his favorite way, by listening to it. He has a form of dyslexia, and has always preferred audiobooks or being read to.
Feedback, criticism, can be hard to take. That said, as a writer who enjoys putting my work out for others to read, I know that it is an intrinsic part of the publishing process. i won’t always get reviews that focus on the meat of the matter – what a book said, or how it affected someone else – and I won’t please everyone. If I depended on a publishing house to edit my work, there could still be mistakes made (heck, I find them all the time in books!) and I would have someone else to point a finger at and blame. In that way, I think that I vastly prefer to be responsible for my mistakes, to own them, and to try to improve my editing skills and the finished end product with each book I write.
As my dad says…”Onward and upwards!”