Some of you may know that I’ve been waiting for feedback to my manuscript from the Literary Consultancy (the TLC). They delivered the assessment report last week, and as I’d been led to expect, the feedback was not sugar-coated. It was thorough and thoughtful, and the reader earned every penny I paid: I was promised a 3-4 page report; she delivered a 7-page paper. There’s a lot of gold to mine on those pages: guidance and encouragement, as well as ways to improve on my writing.
Exactly what I needed, my mind said… and then shut down.
I’ve been sitting with the discomfort for a few days wondering why is it so difficult to receive feedback even when I actively sought it out and even paid for it. I don’t have definitive answers, but here’s what arises for me:
- Overwhelm: Oh my God! I thought I finished it, and here we go again. It’ll take me months to action her suggestions. (Don’t get me wrong, of course I knew I’ll be revising again, but…).
- Resistance: I don’t have the time. I’m too tired. Perhaps, I should drop this manuscript and get on with the next one. I’ll improve on my writing and come back to this one as a pro.
- Panic: What if I can’t do it? I don’t even know how to incorporate those comments. It’s all well for her to say ‘blah-blah’, but how do I actually do it? I need an editor. Can she be my editor? Frantically Google-ing her name and not finding any contact details. How can anyone function without a website in this world? Sigh…
- ‘Not good enough’ story: Here comes another proof that my writing is not good enough. Was I delusional to expect that it’s so good that they’ll link me with an agent? I guess I was.
- Frustration: Three of the chapters I cut out of my manuscript address some of her comments directly! If I didn’t take them out perhaps she would have liked it better?
As I read this list back, I feel like a little kid who is forlorn because someone didn’t like her. And even though I know my manuscript is not me, my ego struggles to make the distinction. So, as I pause to acknowledge my mixed feelings, I also feel huge gratitude towards the reader. I know that acting on these comments can take my work from a good book to an excellent one, and it’s worth the effort. I’m so glad I have this guidance, and once my ego recovers, I’ll sit down and make it the best book I possibly can.
What about you, dear reader? Can you receive feedback gracefully? How do you respond to constructive criticism?