Thursday, October 20, 2011
No, You're Wrong OR Agreeing to Disagree
I mean, I was the kid in elementary school paralyzed by scrutiny. Standing at the blackboard, 46 eyeballs burning into my back, my sweaty hand clutching a stick of chalk. I'd pray for the answer to the math problem to pop into my head or the bell to ring early, or the earth to swallow me up. Then there was college where I'd sit through excruciating art critiques, convinced that I must be bleeding somewhere from the verbal savaging I'd just gotten.
I'm not good at critique.
For sensitive people like me, critique can feel like wearing all your organs on the outside of your skin.
But I'm (pleasantly) surprised that a) all the feedback I've received on my writing has been respectful and b) that I can say, "No you're wrong."
I guess I was afraid I'd be swayed by opinion. If someone (or worse, sometwo) says "You know, this is a middle grade book." I think about it (a lot) and come back with "No." From some magical font or just from bloody mindedness, I've gotten the strength of conviction.
That doesn't mean that I disagree with all feedback, of course not. But, dammit, I've got a bell in me that I can sound. And if it rings true, I know it. Even if I don't want it to be true, I know. Same with feedback that doesn't ring true. What the hell is this bell thing anyway? Is it confidence? Authority? Stubbornness? I don't know. But it's my frigging bell.
This is a very long way of saying that, I've learned to not be reduced to jelly by feedback. I've learned how to rely on my vision for the book and not be sabotaged by others opinions.
Can you tell I'm in deep revising again? But it's good! I am understanding things I didn't fully understand before. And the story is getting tighter and tighter.
So, how do you stand by your convictions in the face of critique? How do you say "No, I won't change that." to crit partners, beta readers, your mom?