Monday, June 21, 2010
Handling Praise and Criticism
I was exchanging tweets (i.e., short messages on Twitter) with a fellow writer. She and I have been in several classes together, and we frequently see each other at writer's conferences. She mentioned that she'd just received an Advance Reading Copy of Medical Error, the second book in my Prescription For Trouble series, and was really enjoying it. I basked in that short bit of praise for about fifteen seconds. Then I heard my mother's voice, telling me "Consider the source." Carrie likes my writing. Carrie is a friend. She's unlikely to say, "I'm reading your book, and I have to tell you, you could have done a lot better." Nevertheless, it was nice to hear it. But I considered the source in evaluating the comment.
Then there's criticism. Authors are cautioned to develop thick skin in a hurry if they're to survive in the profession. We get rejected by agents, by editors, and by readers. For the former, it's part of their job. For the latter, it's a personal choice and has nothing to do with my worth as a person.
One of the greatest lessons I've learned in life came via a taped lecture loaned to me by my friend, golf partner, and attorney, Jerry Gilmore. In it, the speaker said, "I have decided that I will never be universally loved and respected." Wow! If we can come to grips with that, we've got a leg up on getting through life with fewer cuts and bruises to our psyche. And that goes not just for authors. It's equally applicable for pretty much any of us.
I know that as my books are reviewed online, some of those reviews are going to be really great, while others may hurt a bit. But I'll take the good ones with a grain of salt and realize that the bad ones just prove that I can't please everyone. I guess that's about all any of us can do.
For more on handling praise and criticism, as well as contradictory advice on your writing, I'd recommend a recent post by my agent, Rachelle Gardner. If you're not reading her blog, you're missing out on a good thing.
PS--Nice in-depth interview with me by writer Mark Young on his blog, Hook Em and Book Em. Hope you'll check it out.