Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thin SKIN


I would like to be read by as as many people as possible, the same I am sure as most writers. And one thing I have pondered and noticed since I have started on the journey and throwing myself out there is the novice writers typical thinness of skin.

A little perceived (or even deserved) criticism is tossed out and many will hide away for quite some time to lick their wounds. I know I did. My first public submission was poorly received on account of POV issues as I recall, as well as some quibbles over my not naming the main character. I thought that was a stupid argument, you didn't need to know his name. That was closer to four years ago than three-and strangely enough the story I thought was the worst won. I swore I would never enter that contest again-but I am a liar. I did re-enter just recently and I won.

I subbed two stories, Song of Saphir won and Covenant of the Scalp was a very close second. My point being that I know in the last four years I have grown as a writer in talent and skill-and the thickness of my skin has calloused too.

IF you wish to be a success with your writing you have to throw it out into the roiling ocean, surrounded by chum, for the sharks to pick at-how else are you going to bag that trophy fish? It takes guts and planning and talent but along with all of that there is a tenacity that comes with letting some things roll off your back, and enduring whatever slings and arrows are tossed your way-because they will come. Accept it, let the skin grow a little thicker and move on, because there are only two kinds of writers.

26 comments:

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

you got it! Writers have to have thick skins. I've seen people get their shackles and defenses up over a critique, when they should be humble and recognize the truth in it. There's not always truth in a critique, and the author should have the confidence to roll their eyes and say, "thanks" anyway.

Krista said...

Great post! It's so true. How can we put ourselves out there and not expect people to have opinions? It's scary and jarring at times, but we need to consider the source of the critique and THEN evaluate how we take it.
We've talked about this, but I will say that "Anonymous" critiques are usually the most harsh, and yet how can we give the source any weight?
Love Clint Eastwood!

Daron D. Fraley said...

Hey Blondie,

That is my favorite western of all time. Awesome movie.

Sometime you need to do a post on character development with this movie in mind. Was there any doubt who was the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly?

I'll keep working on that tough skin thing!

C. K. Bryant said...

Totally love the Clint Eastwood clip. And you're right, we do need think skins. Mine's gotten a lot tougher in the past year or so, but I remember the first contest I entered and afterward I cried my little eyes out. I almost quit, but then decided to prove them wrong and learn how to write better. I'm still learning. GREAT POST!!

Th. said...

.

Yeah. I had forgotten how much those early rejections were a slap. Now they are less than a gnat in the next room. How times change.

Charles Gramlich said...

My skin has toughened a lot over the years, although there are still patches of thinness. I'm not sure those will ever go away. At least some thinness helps keep you motivated to do the absolutely best you can, to try and avoid criticism.

KarenG said...

I judge my progress as a writer based on the thickness of my skin. I used to be afraid to even submit something to a publisher I was so scare of rejection. Now I can read a bad review of Uncut Diamonds and laugh about it. I call that progress.

Amalia T. said...

Great Post. I kind of treasure those moments when someone really brutalizes my work. I mean, during the brutalization I may be feeling like I was kicked in the stomach, but afterward I feel like I made it through the crucible and came out stronger for it! And that is a great moment.

I would say more, but you've already said it better than I would have.

Angie said...

It does take guts. I don't know that my skin is any thicker, but I have learned not to give up!

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent advice. Coat your nerves in steel and your skin in dragon scales. :)

David J. West said...

Tamara-yep there has to be a balance.

Krista-we have to just judge whatr they say with an open mind and see if it helps us in anyway.

Daron-I will keep that in mind, and plan a piece like that for the future.

Christine- Thanks, I relate.

Th.-Oh yeah, things don't get to me near as bad as ages past-heck weeks past.

Charles-I think there is an inate sensitivity to an artists soul-and yeah we shouldn't nessacarily completely lose that.

Karen-you're right, sometimes you just have to laugh at what people will say.

Amelia-thanks I'm flattered, I usually feel like my blog posts are so off the cuff they might hinder people liking my writing.

David J. West said...

Angie-I've read your stuff its good-I know you can hang in there.

Elena-nice imagery.

Morgan Ives said...

I still have a few thin-skin issues. I've discovered that they come from throwing my story to the wolves before I've finished it in my mind. I do better with critiques if I wait a bit (a week or two) and work on something else in the meantime. Doing that gives me a chance to be more objective about my baby and untie the apron strings.

Morgan Ives said...

Snort. I should read my comments before hitting publish. What a disturbing metaphor--untie the apron strings from the baby and throw it to the wolves. *shakes head and goes to find artificial brain stimulants*

LDS_Publisher said...

You won a prize in LDS Publishers February contest. Send me your mailing address.

And thanks for being a sponsor.

David J. West said...

Nice Morgan, but I knew what you meant.

LDS Publisher-thanks, for that and the contest.

M. Gray said...

It's funny--I just told my sister that can tell REALLY tell me what she thinks this time reading my new rough draft cuz I'm "tougher now." With my first book I just needed to feel validated, but ever since WiDo picked me up I can take stuff cuz I know I at least have potential.

You're good with receiving criticism. I'm working on it. :) I think it's always easier to take when we know the things we did well too.

Kimberly said...

Well said!

Although my skin isn't as thick as I would like, I've come to realize that my writing is never improved by receiving praise and usually improved by criticism. So, tough as it is, I guess that given the choice I'd choose the criticism every time.

Except on the bad days and then I'll choose chocolate...

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Right on! I know exactly what you mean. Walking down the path of publication toughens a writer up. Great post!

David J. West said...

M-definetly, it will come.

Kim-painful as it is, it is a
refining fire.

Kathi-thanks. You need to tell me if you subbed anything for LDSP's contest.

Angie said...

Hi again. I left you an award on my blog.

David J. West said...

Thanks Angie.

Susan said...

HA! I'm sure some of that was intended for me. Don't worry, I'm toughening up. Funny how I'm thinking--or maybe hoping--I've made a few friends through a misunderstanding. Are you and Th. going to the Storymakers conference in April? I have to shake your hands.

David J. West said...

Susan, Yeah it was a little bit for you, but as I said-I have been there and so has everyone else.

I am going-don't think Th. is because of school. I am excited to meet lots of people there, Storymakers is great for networking.

Congrats on your win too, and hopefully we will be sharing a book by summertime.

Karlene said...

That's the reason I submitted to that contest--to help thicken my skin as a writer.

From a publisher's POV, I can say that I've made people cry, even when I've been as thoughtful and gentle as I know how to be. I hate that.

I love it when a writer is tough enough to take criticism and then fix the problems.

David J. West said...

Karlene-I know it has taken criticism for me to improve, though it sure wasn't what I initially wanted to hear.