Reflection: Confidence and Criticism

So, here is my first Monday reflection post.  Like I said yesterday, as part of my new schedule, I’ll be posting short reflections about things to do with my writing every Monday.  So, I figure I’ll start by talking about how I got into writing, and why I started this blog.  I’ve written a bit about this in my about page, but it’s a topic I always have more to say about.

To be honest, I never really knew what the big thing that got me into writing was.  I’ve been interested in some form of fiction writing for as long as I can remember, though I really started to get serious in about 2003, when I wrote The Warehouse (which can be read here).  From that, I got into bigger projects like Wiz, Valleyville, and Swogprille (all of which are described in my projects page).  At that time, though, I never actually had the nerve to try to publish anything.  I’ve been encouraged to try a few times.  A couple of my teachers have made comments that they really liked my stories.

The Mysteries of Valleyville actually originated as a series of silly stories that I told my bus driver coming to and from school for one year.  I told her what would eventually become the first five volumes of that series.  She very strongly encouraged me to try and publish them, though I was doubtful.  Her encouragement was, however, enough to convince me to write the stories down.  I was able to print out a copy of the first one, and actually make it into a physical book, which I gave the driver as a gift at the end of the school year.  I continued to write the Mysteries of Valleyville late into high school.  The series is still unfinished, but I have not touched it in a while.  I’m doubtful that I’ll actually try to publish them, though maybe after editing them extensively, I might put some of them on the internet.

My real problem though is Rule 34 – other people bite, sometimes hard.  In school, I took criticism a bit too hard, especially due to the fact that a lot of my school classmates were, for lack of a better word, jerks.  One story I shared with the class, The Radio (a revised version can be read here), was not terribly popular with the class, to put it mildly, even though I liked it.  Considering how cynical I became due to my immature classmates, I found that the mere possibility of this sort of criticism made me lose confidence, and become highly reluctant to share any of my stories.  I never shared Swogprille with anybody outside of the family, and I don’t think I ever shared Wiz with anybody before most of the stories were lost.

But the thing about artists of any kind is that they have to have thick skin.  I know that no story is going to be universally loved by everybody who reads it.  There will always be critics.  I don’t really mind the mature type of critics who tell me how my story could be better, and are always respectful with their criticism, but I feared I would take destructive criticism too close to heart.  An author’s stories are like their children; it’s way too easy to take it personally when the story gets insulted.  But by realizing this, I came to realize that anybody whose criticism matters will be mature and respectful about giving it.  If somebody calls my story garbage without saying why, chances are that the only real garbage is their comment.

Everything led up to my college Creative Writing class, that I took last Spring.  As part of this class, I had to write a short piece of fiction that would be read and reviewed by the class as part of a writing workshop.  At this point, I decided to share my prologue to The Cromm Conspiracy (readable here), as it was the only thing I had of the required length that I had written recently.  The feedback was quite positive, and helped me revise the prologue into the version I posted.  This also gave me the confidence I needed to start this blog, and post The Warehouse to it.

I decided to start a blog as I still didn’t feel ready to send anything to a magazine, and as I had not finished revising The Cromm Conspiracy, it was not ready for posting.  I figured the blog would be an excellent way to get some of my stories out there.  Ultimately, I came to write Rule 181: stories are made to be shared.  If you keep the stories to yourself, they can’t influence or entertain anybody.  Not sharing stories is just plain selfish.  Sure, the story could end up being bad, but it could also end up being good too, and there’s no real way of knowing until it’s shared.

Well, that’s really all I have to say on the subject for now.  Until next time, White Rakogis, signing off.

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One thought on “Reflection: Confidence and Criticism

  1. Pingback: Reflection: Reflections | White Rakogis's Lair

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