I am very proud of myself! Today I had my story, "Crackers," which I posted here last month critiqued at my writing group. It was ripped apart, but the good news is that I did not get overly emotional! For one thing, it was constructive criticism, instead of something like, "it's just no good." And it was valid-mostly about how the story needs more details. It was a little hard hearing "my baby" being criticized at first, but I really value these people's opinions and I know that they're not just saying these things just to say them.
As a person who is so sensitive, I have a rich herstory of not taking criticism well-when I was younger, just hearing a voice raised to a certain level would make me cry and want to hide. In fact, the main reason why I decided to have my concentration in English be in literature and not in creative writing was solely because I did not think that I would be able to handle criticism well at all. I've spent half of my time in school crying, both before college and during, and so have spent the other half figuring out how I can avoid crying, therefore I did not submit myself to the torture of having my work critiqued before I was ready.
And I'm really glad I did that! I am really glad that I was able to recognize and honor some of my boundaries at a time when I could barely recognize most of them. Besides, by concentrating in literature, I got to figure out what kinds of writing styles I like and would like to use myself. Stephen King, in his book "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft," explains it like this: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." (145)
King continues to make the point that reading is just as important as writing and advises that a serious writer reads and writes at least four hours a day. "The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification prettty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mind-set, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness." (150)
I don't usually read or write for that long during a day, but it is a goal of mine, hampered by the fact that I like spending time watching TV with my parents. I do realize, though that if I want to be a serious writer, then the TV needs to turn off-at least for a longer period of time than it does now. Except that for right now, I'm trying to not take things quite so seriously, but to just experiment and enjoy what life has to offer-there will be plenty of time for seriousness later!
And keep watching for a retelling of my "Crackers" story and tell me what you think!