The importance of criticism
Earlier today, I finally – finally – sent one of my short stories off for critique, having agreed to do so around a fortnight ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, parasitic creatures are involved with the story in question.
Honestly, I’m feeling rather nervous about the whole business. I was intending to send the story a lot sooner, but upon re-reading it I decided that I just wasn’t happy with it. I then spent ages holding off on showing the story, hoping that I could somehow make it “right” before showing it. Even now, having finally sent it, I’m not particularly pleased with it; but then again, I would probably continue to think like this no matter how many times a re-wrote it.
And this, I believe is precisely the reason why I need to hear someone’s opinions on it.
I won’t deny it: people’s opinions are scary. I can’t think of anything worse than pouring your heart and soul into a single piece of work, only for it savaged afterwards. But then again, isn’t this precisely what happens to every published work ever? If you can’t bare to have your work read by even one other person, then how on Earth will you cope if your work has been released to the public?
I would also argue that criticism is necessary for us to learn as writers. When it comes their own work, I reckon that just about everyone is a little bit biased No-one can be expected to be completely objective about their own writing, which is why we to show our words to those who can be.
That said, if you do hope to get published then I can understand why showing your WIP might not seem ideal. There is, however, a way around this: namely, write something specifically for the purpose of getting it critiqued. That way, you can work out how you can improve your writing without having to reveal your precious WIP before it is done. Plus, if your WIP hasn’t been going so well, then trying something different may provide you with the break that you need.
This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why I decided to start writing an online serial. It was also originally the reasoning behind the story that I’ve just sent off. Said story is now the basis for the novel I’ll be starting in July. Go figure.