Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Harsh Reality of Writing

One of the best, and worst, things about writing is it's all subjective. I can absolutely love something that you hate and vice versa. Because all of it is based on opinions, it can also be really harsh.

I  received several beta comments back over the past few days. One in particular was basically devastating. As of thus far, I've been hearing really good things about my current WIP. People tended to really enjoy reading it which was making me feel very comfortable. I feel like I've learned a lot with my last two novels and this one feels right. I know there are things I need to change, I understand that, but the way this reader attacked my novel was just cruel.

I mean, attacked it, ripped it to shreds... the works. Even before I knew how to beta read, I would have never presumed to tell a writer how their characters are suppose to act, how dialog is supposed to be and how the plot should be. Sure, I'd give suggests but in the nicest, most helpful way I could. I'd never go in with the intention to really hurt someone and it seems like this reader did that to me.

I'm not saying some things weren't helpful. I'm just saying that the majority of things this reader said were hurtful and plain mean. It's hard for me to understand why someone would want to hurt anyone that way but they did hurt me... and I have a thick skin. I've dealt with know-it-alls, book snobs and writers who thought they were God's Gift to the Literary World. But this reader hurt me.

This isn't about pity. I'm just writing to say that sometimes that's just the breaks. Sometimes, no matter what you do someone is not going to be happy and that's life. Recognize what you can gain from it, shove the crap aside, tell that reader thanks and you'll consider what they've had to say and keep on keeping on.  You and your novel can only benefit from the experience.


  1. Cruel, negative feedback is what makes so many writers hesitant to share their work. I don't mind if people feed me negativity, but at least make it worth my while by offering ways in which I can improve - and do so not condescendingly.

    Hope you don't let their words get to you too much!

  2. Alissa, thanks. I'm not. I could tell it was spiteful. At first I was mad, then I made my husband and best friend sit down to pick out what they thought I could use because I too upset to gather it all myself. I found some great ways to improve my current WIP so I got that at least.

    It's hard to stomach cruel words for cruelty's sake but I'm just putting that much more effort into my work.

    Sometimes things just are the way they are.

  3. There, there. *pats Amber on the back* This is exactly the reason why you want multiple beta readers- so that a single person's hangups don't get blown all out of proportion. No single book is right for everyone- look at the Twilight arguments anywhere on the web for a very stark example.

    Go to bed, get up again in the morning, and then look at the stuff you've received- from all your beta readers- and identify the most commonly-cited problems. Then get to work on fixing them.

  4. At the very least, there were useful elements within what they sent that could be extracted... so even if they were just writing you to be total, er... d!cks, you still managed to come out ahead from it.

    I know the kind of email you're talking about, and to be able to even have the presence of mind to ask others to look it over and find anything that might be useful... that shows a maturity and dedication to the craft that the person who sent the email can never hope to reach.

  5. I think everyone has said what I would've told you. You're an amazing person to "chin up" and take anything out of what they said. That does, as Heather said, show a maturity and dedication to the craft, and I'm sure you and your writing will be all the better for your attitude. Miller would be proud. ;)

  6. I hope you continue writing at the pace and enthusiasm you always have - the negative feedback was clearly meant to be vicious. I wish you the best of luck and joy at doing what you love :)
    Your follower from e-Volving Books


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