I get overwhelmed easily. I wish I were one of those people who can take everything in stride, or take life as it comes, or have that keen sort of mind that easily slices through the chaos to absolute clarity. I’m not. I think few of us are.
When receiving feedback on my novel from my good friends who have put quite a lot of time and effort into reading my manuscript and commenting on it, my mind and emotions are all a muddle. The easy (and wrong) thing to do is to ignore their criticisms, eschew all the work I need to do on the manuscript, and hold up in my own pride. I think many young writers do this. The right thing to do—I believe—is to begin the intensive process of sorting through the comments and deciding, comment by comment, if it is something that I need to consider when revising my novel.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to apply every bit of criticism I receive to my manuscript, but I will at least consider each comment, and if it has resonance, or if I get the same comment twice or three times, I have to be honest with myself and decide whether changes need to be made. At first, this is difficult because I have to once again face my imperfections as a writer and then face that I have a lot of work to do. I don’t care how humble a writer you claim to be, this is just not a pleasant feeling. No one likes to be told that their baby has flaws . . . believe me, if nothing else, being a teacher has taught me that! However, once I work through it and face the problems with my novel, I feel energized again. I have direction and a sense that order can be achieved.
In future blogs on my revision process, I’ll talk about how I go about finding order again after I receive criticism. There’s much more to say.