I had a recent conversation with a fellow writer that bothered me enough to post about it. I was asking her how her writing was going and she said she hadn't been able to work on her project ever since receiving her last critique a few months ago. When I asked why she said, "What's the point?"
Me - What do you mean?
FW - What's the point of continuing to work on something that will never get published?
I admit that I got mad. She is a genuinely gifted writer who has a way with words that I truly envy. Her characters come alive on the printed page. But she was just going to give up? Not try? Because she got one negative critique?
Girl, please, get over yourself.
First of all, the opinion of a reviewer should not be treated like Moses bearing the Ten Commandments. It's one person's opinion and they could be right or they could be wrong, but they are not the gospel. A critique is only as good as what you take out of it. Filtering through it is the job of the writer. You take what sounds right to you and discard what sounds wrong. The writer is the final arbiter, not the reviewer. When you give too much credence to a negative critique, it can paralyze you.
Second of all, publishing as a goal for writing is a good thing. Publishing as the only goal of writing is not. You should be writing because you love it. You should be writing because you want to improve your skills. You should be writing because the voices in your head won't quiet down unless you put it on paper. Whatever the reason it is, you should be writing with passion. But if you are only writing because you want to get published, this is a mighty harsh industry that may ultimately end up breaking your heart.
I remember reading an article by a famous author who spoke about how she had graduated from her MFA program with several writers who were more talented than her and yet she was the only one published from her graduating class. She said that the only reason she achieved publication and they didn't was Perseverance. She never gave up writing. She never gave up trying.
Someone else once said publishing is as much about luck as it is about talent. That perfect storm of luck and timing - the right people in the right place at the right time picking the right story. Chance, luck, fortune - none of this is in our control. The ONLY thing in our control is the writing.
So I say to anyone else out there who might be feeling that sense of hopelessness.
Don't give up.
If you have a passion for something, be it writing, singing, acting, saving the world, investment banking, whatever it is.
Don't give up.
If you believe you have what it takes to make your dreams come true.
Don't give up. Because once you give up, the dream will die.