Now that I have handed out my draft for a round of ‘first reads’, I’m receiving feedback from those who have been kind enough to take the time to read my book. Since it is for kids, and over 100 pages, these are generous friends indeed. It’s not quite ready for my target audience yet.
So far the feedback has been extremely useful. My husband had a great suggestion for an improvement in the ending. Another reader was not satisfied with the development of one of the characters. Another was confused by an overly-long scene. All this input has been noted and considered. I am grateful for it.
My cousin referred to the book as my ‘baby’. A fitting description for sure, and perhaps an explanation for why I feel so tender toward it, and a little sensitive to criticism. Even the most unfortunate looking newborn is beautiful in its parent’s eyes.
If someone simply says they don’t like our work, that doesn’t really fall into the category of criticism. What we create will be meaningful to some, and meaningless to others. Accepting this fact can help us focus our energies on the creative process, uninhibited.
I have found that there are two types of criticism. The first is constructive criticism. This comes to us from someone we are connected to in some way, who cares about us and wants us to grow and succeed. Constructive criticism is meaningful, objective and direct. Its message is clear, concise, and conclusive. If we are lucky, the messenger is thoughtful and considerate.
The second type, destructive criticism, might come from random people we don’t know. Online, companies spend a fortune cleaning up after “trolls” in the comment sections on their websites. Destructive criticism is subjective, emotionally manipulative and harsh. It lacks useful information. Often, it is delivered with the intention of demoralizing someone by diminishing his or her work.
The good news is that it’s easy to tell the difference between the two. We must be open to the constructive criticism we receive from others. It can help us improve our work, whatever that might be, and expand our horizons. Destructive criticism can be tuned out. The chance of making it over the bridge without a few trolls taking notice is unlikely. We just have to be aware of their malevolent nature, and get to the other side with our story intact.
Carolyn and Leah