Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth

The truth is sometimes a difficult pill to swallow, especially when it comes to something so personal as our writing. We've devoted time and energy to getting our words on paper, and have spilled our hearts and souls into our story. Now, unless you've written your masterpiece for your eyes only, there will come a time when you will turn it out into the world.

And with that, often comes the truth. If you are lucky.

Don't get me wrong. It is often devestating to find that your labor of love may fall a tad short of perfection, and when you receive the first honest critiques of your work, it can truly feel like a knife to the heart; a personal attack. These people must be mistaken, right? They must not know what they're talking about. After all, all your friends and family loved it!

And so we come back to the importance of truth. For the truth will set you free.

If you are lucky enough to be part of a good critique group, then you will often be confronted with opinions that may differ from the praise your friends and family lavished on your story. Now, granted, these are just opinions (I guarantee they are not personal attacks). However, in my experience, the honest opinion of fellow writers is an important tool in improving your writing. That's not to say you should follow every suggestion. After all, no one knows your story like you do, but a fresh set of eyes will often see what you are too close to notice, and what friends and family are either too nice or inexperienced to point out.

With that said, I feel critiquer's also need to deliver their opinions with a bit of tact, especially if they know a writer is new to critiques. Critiques I receive now without batting an eye, would have probably crushed me when I was first starting-- hell, some did. But I'm a far better writer as a result of those honest words, so it was well worth the pain.

Being open to other writers' opinions of your work can be an invaluable tool. So I recommend you don your thick skin, and listen to what others have to say, finding the truth in their opinions, so that your story will still be your own. Only better.



Elana Johnson said...

You are so right!

Anonymous said...

A lot of new writers have trouble with critique. It's just part of starting out in the writing world. I think it's great you've become so comfortable with critiques, and that you're sharing your thoughts and experience with all those aspiring authors who haven't quite made the leap.