How often do you share your writing?
The people around me in the past wrote the book (no pun intended) on unsolicited advice.
Well, since I am involved in a writing group in my town, I share my work on a weekly basis. With other people I have pretty much only shared my poetry. In January I wrote a poem from the prompt "Because of you..." In 10 minutes I wrote a poem to my father. This was before he passed away. He never saw the poem but it was framed at the funeral (everyone in my family read it and said I MUST display it). I got many compliments on that. My mother recently took it to her grief support group and it got more rave reviews. My mother thinks I really should be doing something with my poetry.
I'm a selfish perfectionist.
Mama knows best!
Have you ever received harsh criticism, Pat?
One of the mandates of our group is "positive feedback only". Like you said in another post, silence speaks volumes. I believe I may have received that kind of criticism but I'm not sure. I know I have given it. LOL!
If we want critique we take it outside the group by meeting personally or via email. I met with author Wayson Choy in the spring and he critiqued the first 15 pages of my current WIP. When I first came away from there I was a little stunned but I realized he made valid points. I considered his recommendations for several days, maybe even weeks. In the end, like you said, it's my story and I only made some slight changes - not as drastic as he suggested. After all, he was only reading the first 15 pages, not the whole story. For example, he didn't like two of the opening characters' names - Eva and Kelly. I agreed with him on Kelly saying I had already changed it a couple of times, but I explained that I chose Eva because I wanted to portray the character as innocent and naive. He then agreed with the name.
I went to this critique meeting with another member of my writing group. She said she was very nervous. I told her that there was no reason to be. This was just one person's opinion. Yeah, he's an award-winning author but that doesn't mean his word is Gospel. She said she had been critiqued before and her work was torn apart and that's why she was nervous. I think if someone is going to critique your work they can do it with tact and subtlety. They don't have to tear it apart. I won't listen to someone who is going to tear it apart like a hungry lion. They have no heart.
I've found that "lions" use ferociousness to hide personal perceived inadequacies.
In the past I would show my work to just about anyone that would read it. :-P In hindsight, I'm embarassed to have been so proud of such shallow work. But I guess every writer starts somewhere. :-) The real problem I ran into during that phase of my writing was a lack of truly honest response. I really had to push people for details. I'd get responses like, "Wow you have a great imagination!" or "That's really good." or "You have a real talent." I can't remember EVER being told something even remotely negative. The closest I came was when my high school Engish teacher took the time to peruse one of my short stories and actually made a couple of gentle suggestions.
Don't get me wrong. These responses were GREAT for my ego! LOL But they did little to help me develop as a writer and actually produce real works of value.
It wasn't until I had several creative writing and world literature college courses under my belt that I realized how truly shallow and flawed my previous works had been. Through those courses I exercised my own analytical muscles pulling apart great works and suffered through the honest criticism of my work for the first time.
Since then I have had two helpful critiquing partners come and go and I've kept my work largely to myself. Other than a handful of fellow writers, my husband, and my mother, and now what I've posted on this board, I haven't shown my current work to anyone. No one has seen my work as a whole, only in pieces where I felt I could use help. I'm planning on keeping it that way until I have at LEAST a complete first draft.
Reading the previous posts, I guess I've been fortunate in not having had anyone shred my work... yet. ;-p
For what it's worth,
Who dared to give you nasty feedback?