Every time I publish a new post on my blog, I am anxious to find out if someone other than my husband, who as my kids say is my greatest fan and support, will like it. I wait in anticipation to see how many viewers I will have and to see if anyone will comment on it and if so, what kind of comment it will be. I visit my site every now and then throughout that day, sometimes happy, at other times disappointed.
When we as writers write an article, a story or a novel, we put our heart and soul and days or months of hard work into it. Then someone has to read what we wrote, be it a spouse, child, friend or fellow blogger. And we ask them, “But what did you really think about it?” How do we then react? Do we accept what they say?
I remember an incident from my teaching days in Dubai when a colleague asked what I thought of the tenth grade mathematics book that she had modified. When I told her that it was complicated and would be hard for the students to understand since they didn’t have the necessary mathematical background for it, she got offended and said, “Other mathematicians have read the book and found nothing wrong with it.”
I was surprised and even shocked by her reaction. I had been teaching the course for so many years and wondered, why did she ask for my honest opinion if she knew she was not going to listen? In the words of Franklin Jones:
“Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.”
As people we want to be accepted by our family, our friends, and our society. But as writers we want more. Among many things we want to have readers and we want to be praised. Unlike Mark Twain who once said:
“I’m always embarrassed when someone compliments me, because they never say enough.”
We need readers who will tell us how wonderful we are but at the same time will tell us what’s wrong with our writing and how we might possibly fix it. Or else we won’t become better writers.
As Dorothy Bryant put it:
“Conceiving and giving birth does not make a woman a mother. A mother is the person who, after birth, puts in those long, caring years. Finishing a first draft doesn’t make you a novelist. Anyone can do the rough draft of a novel, and it probably won’t look much worse than the first draft of any great novel you care to name. The difference between “anyone” and a serious writer is rewriting, rewriting and more rewriting…”