The recent news that I’ve actually had my work accepted by a journal is bittersweet.
I’m completely neurotic about what my bio should say, my head shot, if my mother will disown me for the content of the piece.
I tried to take the advice of my writing friends and bask in the “glory of the moment.” It worked for like a nanosecond. All I feel is anxiety–that the acceptance was a mistake, will be recanted, or that I’ll never be able to write something good enough to get published again.
All this before the thing’s ACTUALLY been published.
Also I’m still writing, and not all of my stories are loved. Or even liked.
Which can be a total buzz kill.
The other night I took some tough feedback about a short story that I think has promise. It’s part of the process, I guess, letting other writers inspect your privates, tell you what they like and don’t like.
— If I were you, I’d just trash that thing, start again.
—But I like these privates! They’re, like, a PART OF ME.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how we (writers) can do a better job supporting, encouraging, and inspiring, while also providing useful feedback. I’m working on being a better feedback-giver. And encourager.
This week I had the honor of being in the audience while Governor Gregoire and two other amazing women accepted the Woman of Distinction award from the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. It was a lovely luncheon. (Thanks, Patty, for the invite!)
What stuck with me afterward was the importance of support.
In all of the speeches and the video presentations, the common message was how peer and mentor encouragement had been critical in the lives of these high-achieving women, including the Governor.
I know it’s also necessary to point out where a person is missing the mark, but there have to be ways to do this that don’t shut a person down, and instead, raise a person up and get them excited to dive back into their work and revise.
I hope I never lose sight of how much courage and work it takes for a person to expose their writing to the world. And I want to respect that, even when I’m asked to look closely and give them my “professional” critical opinion.
To my friend Grace, who recently asked me to read her memoir, I hope my responses were respectful and helpful. You are a talented writer.
If you have thoughts on giving and receiving feedback, please share.