Not the TV show, sheesh. You'd think I wrote a lot about TV or something.
No, I'm talking about the gawky, knock-kneed post fledgling stage in a writer's life. You've written just enough and been through critique groups just enough to feel like your stories are ready for submission. So you submit and get so many form rejections you could paper your office with them.
At the same time, things that you were previously given praise for (perhaps just last week) has suddenly been the thing your critique group is now suggesting needs revision. If you're like me, you howl at your computer screen. Your indignation is then replaced with the your self deprecating head voice.
"You'll never be a writer," it whispers.
Well, here's little insight (and perhaps you can take heart in knowing) about what's going on. First, let's state the obvious. The critique experience is imperfect. It's imperfect because people know you can't take the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Writer's know better than anyone else how a writer feels when people give feedback on their story. So, what writers do is not compare your story to say Ray Bradbury, but to itself. For the story, as it is, what needs the most work. Then writers pick on that thing. And because the story is being judged against itself, when a writer compliments you on this thing you did, it's often true only when the story is judged against itself. Later, as you grow the things you once got compliments will eventually become the things people critique.
Growth is painful and frustrating. But this is also a kind of milestone. It means you're writing has progressed to such an extent in other areas, that writers don't need to comment on them any more. The better you get, the more nit picky your critique group should be. So set your ego aside, make like a Chia Pet and grow.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).