By W.G. Reese
You’ve finished that article, short story, or novel that you poured your heart into for days, weeks, and months. Whoever reads this miraculous compilation of facts, imagery and relatable emotion will enjoy — no, be enthralled and begging for more, until….
You run it by a critique group, friend, spouse, and/or that special someone who totally gets you and what you’re bringing to the world. Their eyes lift from the page and stare. “I don’t get it.”
“I’m sorry, but the protagonist seems out of touch of why he/she’s in the story at all. Didn’t learn anything, didn’t relate to anybody….”
“Ok!” Back to square one.
Ever happen to you, the ugly beast called discouragement? I once entered a contest that offered free critiques. They shredded my first chapters with negatives. Made me actually want to jam my pages into my actual shredder. But there was one voice that stood out among them that stopped me cold – one that didn’t flatter, but offered wise insights from which I learned.
Like the song in Mary Poppins – ‘A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down…’ And it did with my gratitude.
So what am I saying? Don’t listen to anything that conflicts? Not at all-
Ever read, 1 Kings 19:11-12
“…Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, a gentle whisper.” (NIV)
Has your mind been blown away by negatives and/or your emotions rocked… wanting to light a match under a corner of the page? Me too…
Stop! Don’t shred, burn, or fly your work across the room or out the window. Keep it close and listen to what makes sense. It may sometimes come to you sweet and sour, but that’s ok. I believe that our loving God wants us to discern and remain humble in the process – to be able to listen to any comment offered without becoming unraveled… and take them to prayer. Prayer? Oh, yeah, because where do we receive the greatest peace that we could ever own? As writers, we need Jesus’ sweet peace and His mind to lead us about what His intentions are with our work. You’ve got it – we’re not alone, so let the negatives fly! Take from them what is needed because there’s much to learn no matter where we are in our walk as writers.
So what did I do with the advice offered by the helpful judge? I realized that in my situation, I needed to better my education. I returned to school and took a writing class.
Humbling? Yes, but worth it. I learned to strip bad writing habits, work my grammar, and rework my characters into more relatable protagonists and antagonists – all the while eliminating an outdated style to rub on new varnish. I had a great time and a superior professor for which there are not enough words of thanks.
Did I get published? Yes! With lots of prayer, hard work, and refusing to give up, I soldiered on until God gave me a publisher who is professional, kind, and possess the patience of Job.
Taste the spoonful of sugar or vinegar when it comes. Listen, discern, pray, and start again. It’s all worth it!
W.G. Reese (Wendy) writes speculative-fiction and Author of The Visitor. She is a Southern California Beach Native who now lives in the mountainous panhandle of North Idaho. A story teller since childhood, the wonders of God’s creative gifts has always inspired her imagination. As a lover of sci-fi/fantasy (a Trekkie and not ashamed of it)… her metaphoric writings resonate with the possibility of worlds beyond. Blessed with a loving family and friends that walk alongside, she holds no greater awe than the love of Jesus Christ.