As aspiring writers there are certainly things we struggle with as we explore the maze that is our craft. It is a highly passionate craft, writing, and there are a lot of people with a lot to say about what makes someone an artisan. Rummaging through the nooks and crannies of the internet we stumble across varying degress of sage advice. You have probably read qoutes like, “Know the rules well so that you know how break them,” or “To write well, an author must read copiously,” countless times. This is not going to be that kind of post, as I am no sage.
Thinking back, I remember when writing was a very private and intimate thing for me. My mother would find some dark poem of mine and come knocking on my door with worry in her eyes. Then I’d have to explain that, no, mother dearest, I am not always what I write. When I first began to write, sharing what I wrote sometimes lead to conversations like that with friends and family – the very thought being mortifying for some of you, dear readers, I’d wager, hehe. However, it was that kind of confrontation that made me introspect and realise that I projected more of myself than I had cared to admit onto my characters and stories. I say confrontation, but to claim it was anything but assuagign a vigilant and loving mother’s annoying(to my teenage self) but not entirely unfounded fears would be a lie.
Fortunately, both my mother and I have come far where my writing is concerned since then, haha. For me this strikes at the very heart of one of our craft’s biggest hurdles, finding the courage to share what we write and allowing it to speak for itself. Although, I’ll admit that it took me much longer to learn how to deal with unconstructive criticism, which is a minotaur in and of itself in this maze of ours.
Criticism goes hand in hand with fine-tuning our skills, and even for the most introspective of us it is impossible to see everything. Enchanted mirrors can be found in criticism, but just like with magic it takes a certain trick in activating them and using them safely. By the way, if anyone of you learn that trick feel free to tell me, haha. Criticism can sometimes feel like an itch you simply must scratch. The commenter/critic just doesn’t get it, and yes that might very well be true. I’ve found that for myself, the best way to deal with comments such as “This is terrible,” that offer no constructive feedback is to simply say, “Thanks for the input,” and go on my merry way blatantly ignoring said comment. Even constructive criticism sometimes feel like personal attacks, but that is the kind of criticism that I personally believe I have to pay the most attention to – I mean, it must have hit a sore spot for a reason and that reason is most likely an area in which I can improve, no?
I have a great resource in my girlfriend. I am blessed in many ways but her genuine interest in my dreams and work is one of the greatest. Whenever I find that I’m asking for criticism/feeback, I’ve made it a habit to ask people for the brutal truth. Sure, it might sting from time to time but that’s how we grow. Others have helped me see the areas of my writing that I need to work on the most.
On that note I think I’ll risk some sage advice after all, hehe. One of the greatest resources a writer can have, aside from being slightly masochist when it comes to criticism, is a desire to evolve. The most valuable resource, though, is being passionately curious.
Nurture your curiosity, as well as your passion.