Listening to criticism

As I’ve said before writing is relatively easy if you are of that mindset.  Then comes the hard bit, editing and reader panel criticism. 

I readily admit to being a useless editor of my own material, i can never spot errors of spelling (USA vs UK English via my wretched computer) typos, omissions, the abuse of the semi-colon and many others mistakes.  To me the story is the thing despite the fact i know that’s not good enough.

So I need help, help I can afford.  My reader panels are usually long term friends and I try to draw on different folk for each work.  I like people from as many countries and cultures as I can, as well as folk who have different reading habits.

What I am trying to establish is firstly whether these  very different people 1) Enjoy the work 2) feel it could be improved with an inkling of -how?, 3) Copy edits, tiresome though they are.

The big issue is how honest am I, the author, when they come back, sometimes with stinging criticism.  It is impossible not to get an emotional response which conditions the practical one.  I think sometimes the readers are too kind and understate the frailties of the work, whilst others stick to pedantic copy errors only, as if the work was an exercise for O level English.

We writers have to be brutally honest with ourselves and find a way around the emotional first responses.  This takes time and experience and even then I don’t think we ever totally succeed.

So here’s to all you writers out there, here’s to brave honesty and to the defense of the semi-colon!


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