Criticism

Is it easier to take feedback (i.e. criticism) on a work you’ve already got under contract than on one you’re doing on spec? I’ve been wondering about that…

It was easy for me to ask for feedback from my writers groups on Truth About Truman. I WANTED feedback. I wanted to know absolutely everything that was wrong with the manuscript. In fact, if someone didn’t offer enough criticism, it made me wonder what was wrong with them. But at the same time, it was much harder to send it to my editor when I knew she actually wanted it because I wanted it to be “perfect.” And, of course, it’s NEVER going to be perfect. (That feeling of it’s-got-to-be-perfect-before-I-send-it-in is even stronger now that I’m working on the revision. My editor will probably have to come to my house and literally pry it out of my hands to get me to turn it in! But I am open to critiques! VERY open to critiques!!!) But maybe that’s just me?

One of my oldest and dearest writing friends asked me to critique a chapter of a project she’s working on under contract. She and I have only met in person twice, but we’ve been online friends for…I don’t even know how long. 18 years? Something like that. We’ve grown as writers together and we can be totally, 100% honest with each other. I uh, had quite a bit to say about the first half of her chapter (the second half was wonderful!).

She and I are such good friends, and we’ve critiqued for each for so long that I don’t normally worry about how she’s going to take what I have to say, but I did worry about this one. And part of the reason I worried was because I knew it WAS under contract. (If it’s already under contract, doesn’t that mean she already did everything right? Though, when I’m the one with the contract, that certainly doesn’t mean *I* did everything right…but other people do everything right way more often than I do…don’t they?) I worried to the point that I almost revised my critique before I sent it. I almost didn’t tell her everything I thought. But in the end I gave her the full critique. Because she’s my good friend…one of few people I can trust to tell me what I don’t necessarily want to hear, but NEED to hear…and I’m supposed to be that person for her, too.

I was SO relieved to hear back from her right away this morning. She took the critique very well. And it made me wonder…IS it easier to take criticism on a project you’ve already got under contract?


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