Friday, May 27, 2011

Blog Chain: My own worst enemy

Michelle started this blog chain round. She wants us to:

Be positive! Name some of the positive aspects of your writing — be it a compliment from a mentor, friend or crit partner to anything special you learned concerning your writing skills.

I thought I'd feel pretty good the first time I stepped in front of a crowd with a microphone. For years, my friends and family had told me I had some pretty good vocal chops.

Much to my surprise, I felt pretty bad about my performance when the night ended.

I came in too early on the first verse of "Barracuda." I missed my cue after the solo in "Blue on Black." I sang the wrong words on my band's first original tune.

Despite falling flat on my face (not literally, of course, that would have been the one thing that kept me from ever stepping on stage again), I had total strangers approach me after the show with words of praise. They hadn't noticed my flaws.

That night I learned how true the old axiom was.

"You are your own worst critic."

Sometimes it's really hard to keep that in mind when my writing is in question.

So it's always exciting (and appreciated) when friends and writing peers offer compliments.

I've been told that the emotional elements in my writing is off the charts.

I loved it when one friend told me she couldn't stop crying when she read one of my stories. (I'm a little sadistic like that.)

I loved it when the guy that owns the convenience store down the street asked if he could read one of my attempts at women's fiction and then called me a few days later to tell me, "You can write, girl!"

I love it when I share my story ideas with my cousin and she gets excited for me.

It almost made me cry when another writer told me Long Road had a level of meaning of her that I would never fully know.

Wow. That was pretty cool.

Perhaps the most satisfying comment -- the one that taught me a good lesson on subjectivity -- came when I entered a Secret Agent contest on a popular blog for aspiring writers. The agent slammed my entry, didn't say one positive thing about it.

Later that evening, though, another writer left her thoughts on the entry. She said she felt the agent was way off base. I emailed her to thank her for her kind words, and she replied with more encouragement. Since then, that newbie writer has made it to the NYT bestseller list.

It is oftentimes uncomfortable to accept a compliment. It's even more discomforting to repeat them in a setting such as this.

But gosh, think about this: Would you still be writing without receiving some sort of positive encouragement?

Check out what Abby said yesterday. Sandra weighs in with her compliments tomorrow.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Wow, yeah, I understand the own worst critic thing. And I love your anecdote at the end- it is true everything is subjective and just because someone is an agent doesn't mean their opinion is the only one worth listening to!

Eric said...

Given your ups and downs, it's admirable that you've continued forward. Your final thought is perfect. I know I definitely couldn't continue this if I didn't receive at least one positive thought now and then. Nice job, Kat.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Another self-critic here. Glad to hear other writers are encouraging you!

Michelle H. said...

It is oftentimes uncomfortable to accept a compliment. It's even more discomforting to repeat them in a setting such as this.

Yes. But consider what positives you just gave to someone else. As bloggers, we sometimes don't consider that other writers, more down about themselves concerning their work, may stumble upon our posts. Right now, you just gave someone else the opportunity to consider their own strengths and keep pushing forward with writing. That's the true compliment.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

It's so good to remember all the positive things people have said about your writing in the past. One of my MG books got a review that said my book did for villains what Shrek did for fairytales. That person was probably on crack, but it made my whole day.

We are too hard on ourselves, aren't we?