But still, receiving constructive feedback makes me feel like a bottle of salad dressing being shaken. I know it will come out better that way, but it’s unsettling. I’ve had practice taking feedback, thanks to five years in a great critique group. Yet much as I hate to admit it, my initial gut reaction to criticism and suggestions is usually a bit of resistance. Sometimes more than a bit. I have thoughts like:
It’ll ruin my story/protagonist/summer, etc. if I do that.
That’s going to be way too much work.
What does that reviewer know, anyway?
Maybe most, or all, writers tend to react that way. We’re enamored of what we’ve written. We don’t want to kill our darlings.
But, after the initial NOOO!! I let the critique and suggestions marinate in my head for a while. (You can use salad dressing as a marinade, right? So I’m not really mixing metaphors here.) At this stage, I’m pondering, trying on the ideas, considering where they might take me. I’ve often found that the suggestions I resist the most at first prove the most fruitful when I finally take them to heart. And usually the surgery required to integrate them into my manuscript isn’t as invasive and painful as I’d feared.
So I’m halfway through my third draft now, giving my protagonist some touch-ups so readers won’t dislike him too much. And I like where this rewrite is going! Last week, my guest blogger Scott Bell shared some excellent lessons he’d learned about rewriting. I’d love to hear from fellow writers about your own struggles and triumphs as you revise.