Friday, February 3, 2012

Critiques, Another Angle

This week has been all about the power of being a good critiquer. Excellent advice on how to do this was written by Heather McCorkle: The Power of a Critique.

Today we’re going to shift and look at this critiquing business from the other side of the pen.

First off, I have to come clean with something—I “never” feel bad no matter what is said about my book, or how it’s presented. I also don’t need the added fluff of the good stuff, unless it’s specific and told for a reason if the knowledge could help other areas. I’m confident that this is a tough job editing and I would rather know what doesn’t work than what does. Because all that was not spoken—I’m under the assumption it’s brilliant or they would have said something.

How did I acquire this attitude? Perhaps years of learning to fly airplanes. I’ve had the best of the criticism, and I know it was all so I wouldn’t kill my passengers. I’ve always been grateful for what I can learn from someone else. I also have a belief system that people believe as I do. Don’t we all think that? Why would I assume someone is being hurtful with my critique to hurt me and not help, when I would never do that? I wouldn’t.

My belief system:

1.     I do not have control over how people behave, what they say, or how they say it. I only have control over my interpretation and belief of “why” they said the things did.

·      I belief if someone has dedicated their time to critique my work, I know they care about me enough to do that.
·      If they say something they dislike about my book, I believe it’s to make my work better. I may not agree with all their suggestions, and I may want to discuss it further, but they are taking their time to help me. I appreciate that.
·      I believe that anything anyone says “bad” about my work is with a positive intent, and done with that person’s experience and perceptions to move me forward.
·      I believe it’s hard and painful to be honest with another about their baby, thus I appreciate their honesty—no matter how painful—I believe it hurts them more than me.

2.     It takes a huge effort and time commitment for someone to read my book.

·      I am extremely grateful. How and what they tell me is “all” good.
·      I believe I owe them the respect to listen to, and consider all, they said, for all the work they’ve committed on “my” behalf.
·      I believe it’s important to not critique how they critiqued me, but thank them for their effort and the valuable feedback.

3.     When people care, they put out an extra effort and go out of their way for me. I know that they care if they took the time.

·      If they care, how they say what they say isn’t the issue. The fact they were honest with me is.

4.     Personally, I have no problem with negative critiques because I grow from them.

·      I believe in listening and learning.
·      I value education and growth, and know that I can grow from everyone’s suggestion, even if I don’t take it. It creates another perspective.
·      I believe that their impression could be that of my future readers. I may not change to their suggestion, but I do heed their suggestions at what didn’t work for them.

We cannot control how people treat us, but we can control how we interpret their behavior. It’s our choice to believe if they gave us a negative critique to hurt, or their best effort and honest opinion.

In my life, I choose gratitude, and acceptance of “everything” someone has to say. If I didn’t, I know that my book wouldn’t be where it’s at today. I wouldn’t be the pilot that I am today.

After reading my novel, National Best Selling author Robert Dugoni said, This may not be what you want to hear, but… And I responded, “This is ‘exactly’ what I wanted to hear. It may not have been what I’d hoped for, but it’s ‘exactly’ what I needed.”  Had he not been willing to speak about what he didn’t like, my eyes wouldn’t have been opened. He opened them. I’m grateful. He was right!

Perhaps when we get a critique from someone, and our feelings are hurt, we need to buck up, stand in front of a mirror and repeat the following statements:

·      I believe this was for my good.
·      I believe there is something I can learn from their thoughts.
·      I believe they did their best, and I appreciate it!

·      I believe they went beyond the call of duty and gave me more than I wanted.
·      I believe they took their time for me, and that was a gift.
·      I believe that I need change my focus if I’m going to be an author. This is a tough business, and I am going to make it.

And then send that person, who took their valuable time and energy, a huge thank you, a bottle of wine and chocolate. Despite your feeling on how they said what they said, they did give you a valuable gift.  They gave themselves.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. What an amazing and powerful belief system, Karlene. It makes total sense to me that you've come to this mature and profound attitude through learning to fly and knowing lives were at stake. Talk about getting out of your own way! And the results--nothing short of fabulous. Wonderful thoughts for all writers to chew on until we digest them well to give ourselves the strength and confidence we need.

  2. What a powerful belief system, Karlene. It makes total sense to me that you developed it learning to fly, and knowing lives were at stake. Profound. Results--nothing short of fabulous. And SO useful as a writer! It takes time and experience to get where you are in your belief system, but I'm taking it to heart. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment. Beliefs are all about deciding to believe. This is the one thing we have a choice on. Also imagine what if we paid thousands of dollars for professional editing and they weren't totally honest? I'd feel cheated. I never want to cheat my friends when asked to read their work.

  3. Great post. It can be hard to have your work critiqued. I have had paintings critiqued by master artists and boy was that tough to sit through!

    But those critiques made me a better artist. Now that I am writing, I find the critique is vital. I am blessed with 3 friends who are professional editors and writers. Their comments and suggestions have been so beneficial for my work.

    The critique may be tough to sit through, but a great critique is never personal, only focused on your work. Remember that!

    1. Ruth, that is so true... it is hard. But if you can detach from the emotion and focus on the benefit, can be so worth it. You're going to be a master at your writing, because of the great attitude. And... you have the right kind of friends for this business too! Thanks for the comment. Best of luck in your painting and writing!

  4. This is really great post, Karlene. Love how you put this in a different perspective.

    1. Thank you Karen. I appreciate your comment. My life turned around when I realized so much more was in my control by the power of belief.

  5. I love how you related this to learning how to fly because, like you said (and I never thought of this before), there is a correlation. I'm very grateful for my critique partner. We know how to balance each other so that we pull the best from each other.

    1. Thanks for the great comment Kittie. I know your critique partner is grateful for you too. Pulling the best from each other is a talent and gift for both of you. I have a great critique partner too... and so grateful!

  6. That's a fantastic attitude to have Karlene, I love it! And very interesting how it relates to your life. You bring up a great point, everything we experience colors how we react to things. But in the end it's all about our openness and attitude. Great post!

    1. Thanks Heather. So true on our lives color our attitude. If we can learn to decide "how" we want to think, then we can take back control. It's all good.
      Thanks so much for the comment.

  7. I just LOVE this post Karlene, not just for critiques but life. Your attitude is infectious, it's honorable, and it lifts me up. All of us up.

    I've gotten SCATHED by groups, by Publisher's Weekly during the ABNA contest. It's all added to making me better. But you take this one above with your positive spins. More!! :D