Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cold Light of Day

Or is it the dawn of a new day? Stay with me.

When criticism comes back on a draft, professional, highly qualified criticism, and it's right, should the response be despair, defensiveness and intransigence? Or a getting down to the slow lonely business of making the story better?

There's only one right answer.

It's easy to ignore advice I don't agree with. And it's easy to convince myself that I don't agree with anything, especially if it's difficult. I think often writers convince themselves that anyone criticizing their draft simply didn't get it. Didn't appreciate the hard work, the vision, the insight, the genius. O the Philistines we must contend with!

But what if it's right? What if when I look at criticism in the cold light of day sometimes I have to admit: yes. This will make the story better. And my reaction changes from "Why must the world thwart my brilliance / fail to recognize this thing of beauty I've created?" to "Crap. Crap crap crap. Why didn't I see this problem before?"

It's been said before, but I think what separates published from unpublished writers is not talent -- though that helps -- but the willingness to work. We cannot be be so in love with our creation that it makes us resistant to improvement. That's not faithfulness to the story, it's stubborn brittleness.

If the change improves the story, it must be made. Simple as that.

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