Last week I wrote a post about being critiqued.
Today I was talking with my friend Suzanne about this getting critiqued and I thought a bit more about it.
What we talked about was that feeling you have when you are confident in your work, and in you step sprightly to meet with the agent or editor or critique group–the judges. They treat you harshly. Or maybe they don’t even treat you harshly, but they do what you asked them to do–critique your work.
And it is so damn hard.
You thought you had a story ready to be accepted, but they find all kinds of things wrong with it. You have heard over and over again, not to take criticism personally, that it is not about you. But, damn, at the time it sure feels like it, doesn’t it?
I’m sorry, but no matter how adept I am at receiving criticism (and I’ve received a lot of it, so I think I’m pretty good at it) I still take it personally. And I remember feeling, after a rough critique, that if my work is no good, then what does that say about me? I was so aligned with the work that when it was critiqued harshly I felt like my world was over, like I had no worth, like nothing was worth it.
I don’t take it quite that personally any more. Here’s the deal, though: if you are able to be very zen about it all and not be affected by criticism of your work, then that means you have to be very zen about it and not bask in the praise when it comes.
That’s a tough one, too.
I’ll report back when I’ve mastered the art of listening to neither criticism or praise. It’ll be in about 50 years or so, if I’m lucky.