Writing is hard.
We've all seen the meme, all whined to our friends (or the bottom of a mug once filled with a very different kind of wine), and yet, we've all kept at it.
Because writing is also a water spout. Inspiration, characters, words all build up in us until the pressure reaches intolerable and they gush out, soaking the nearest bystander, word doc/journal/restaurant napkin available.
I can't not write.
When I try to take breaks, my muse (which really, I think is just the love child of logic and passion) throws a tantrum until I pay attention to him again and pour something out onto the page. (Sometimes I joke that all my characters live in a bar in my head -- a la Cheers or How I Met Your Mother -- and that the ones who are the loudest are hanging out at the counter with the ever patient bartender named Asher.)
No, I didn't eat a lot of play-doh as a kid, why do you ask?
But even though I can't not write, the process is still hard. And this isn't just because bleeding out a story is emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically exhausting. And it's not just because trying to find the right word, the right sentence structure, the right voice makes you crazy. And it's not just because you're basically stripping bare and buck naked and hoping against hope you won't be laughed at.
It's also because, if you actually want people to read your words, you have to let people tear your baby apart. Like any parent, you want to defend your child, to insist they are perfect little pixies with no flaws. But, like any good parent, you have to realize that this mentality is nothing short of insanity and that your offspring probably needs some work.
I hate critical feedback. It sucks. But it's necessary. Critical feedback make my baby book even better. It toughens my skin. It prepares me for bad reviews if I ever do get published. It freaking humbles me (which let me tell you, I need).
But it's also REALLY awesome (and I think necessary for sanity) when a beta reader becomes an insta-fan.
Last week at church, our flautist asked if she could read my most recent MS. This week, during extrovert time (the "turn and greet your neighbor part of the service my favorite introvert friend believes is the seventh circle of hell), this same lady sought me out.
"I am smitten!" She said. "I almost stayed home from church to finish reading today."
I could have cried, danced, and even kissed her. Because critique is coming, and when it does I'm going to have to cling to this encouragement to keep myself from drowning in the notion that I suck as a writer.
Have you ever had a beta offer some well timed encouragement like this? How do you deal with harsh critiques? I'd love to hear your stories. Because writing is hard, and we HAVE to stick together!