Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not everyone will love your writing (it's ok)

There comes a time in writing when you wonder, quite bluntly, if you suck.

Maybe you've received two or three rejection letters. Maybe your editor has done a hatchet job on your piece. Maybe you've just been uninspired lately, and you're contemplating entering the field of retail.

Let me share, then, this story: I entered a short story contest recently. (I'll end the suspense for you now and tell you I didn't win). But part of the entry fee was a critique by two judges. Well, okay, I thought. That sounds pretty good. Usually, I only force relatives to give their opinion, and since they pretty much know I want their opinion to be "I love it!" I figured it might be nice to get an unbiased view.

I sent in 10 pages of a story. I received my critiques.

I was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 - higher being better, naturally. The first judge gave me 5s across the board. I think my highest score was a mere 7, for my spelling and grammar. (On this I had to quibble. I may not be able to write, dear judge, but I am a fine speller).

She had one comment: "Use a different font." I don't think I wowed her.

As a matter of fact, after reading her critique, I double-checked to make sure she read my story. It was good!!! Wasn't it?? Or ... maybe not.

Then I read the second critique. It scored 9s across the board. At the bottom, the second judge had scrawled, "I love this!!! I would buy this!!!"

I love this judge!! Me and this judge should be best friends!!! Now here is someone who understands me.

This story provides a perfect example of why you probably don't suck on those days when you think you do. Writing and publishing is rife with subjectivity. What one person hates another may love. So what's a writer to do?

Just keep writing. You'll find that second judge.


  1. I can't possibly describe how much meaning your post has to me right now. You nailed it!

  2. This is soooo true. I entered a contest a year or so ago and there were three judges.

    One said I didn't start in the right place, another had lukewarm comments while a third (who is a NY Times' bestseller) said I started in EXACTLY the right place and had enough to hook an editor right then and there. She had more good things to say but I won't bore you with that.

    Guess which judge is my bff (or would be if I knew her).