by Donna Hatch
Since today is Pearl Harbor Day, I’d like to remind us all about the spirit of the Americans who never gave up, and draw a parallel to writing. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Americans alternated between shock and despair at the horrific loss of life caused by a people with whom we technically were not at war. Then Americans got mad and did something about it. The rest, as they say, is history.
As a writer I encounter all kinds of people, often very well-meaning, who do or say things that I find discouraging. It might be a critique partner. It might be a contest judge. It might be a rejection letter. Writing for other people, rather than just for oneself, opens up a writer to all kinds of opportunity for heartache.
A friend of mine, after critiquing someone else’s writing, got back the complaint, “I feel like you just told me my baby is ugly.” Whose fault is that? The critique partner? Maybe. She might have been un-diplomatic or un-gentle about her criticism. More likely it’s the fault of the writer for taking offense and worse, lashing out at her critique partner. If you can’t take criticism, you don’t have any business trying to get published. Sure it hurts. Sometimes, after years of writing, entering contests, and submitting, I still get my feelings hurt. I cry. I pout. I rage. I eat chocolate. Then I roll up my sleeves, take a second, and hopefully objective, look at the criticism, and ask myself if there’s any truth in their words. Sometimes no. Sometimes yes.
The point is to not give up. If, at some point in the race, you fall down and skin your knees, get up, dust yourself off, put on a Band-Aid, get a kiss from your Mommy (or whoever is in your corner cheering you on), and get back into the race.
Persistence will eventually pay off. And sweet victory will follow.