Being critiqued is not for the faint-hearted.

Ever had that dream where your teeth fall out?

criticism

Where you open your mouth to talk only for all of your teeth to tumble out, leaving you spluttering  in shock and hiding your face in your hands in disbelief.

It’s said to be a sign of anxiety or stress, generally during a time of transition and radical change in a person’s life.

Could it be a sign that changes are afoot? Who knows?

My most recent bout of anxiety came about this weekend, as I finally uploaded a few chapters of my book for critique.  Being the first time that anyone – and I mean anyone – has seen my written efforts, you can imagine the extent of my anguish.  (well, I can talk the talk, but now it was time to walk the walk!)

Thoughts of self-doubt rose to the fore as soon as I hit the ‘go live’ button. What if no-one sees it? Or worse still, what if they really slate it?

I am using the authonomyTM site –  “a brand new writing community site for writers, readers and publishers, conceived and developed by book editors at HarperCollins.”  I’ve read a few of the books on the site already and am really impressed at the standards. Some even get picked up by traditional publishers and many others are Indie authors using the self-publishing route.

My intention was to just upload a couple of chapters and see how they fared. Depending on the feedback, I then had two options:

Plan A – assuming the worst, I would simply disappear off the face of this virtual world. Change my name by deed poll and abandon all thoughts of writing. Maybe take up painting or pottery! Get dentures!

Plan B – looking on the positive side, accept all criticism with grace, work on improving  my writing and persevere.

A few hours later, I got a message telling me that someone had left a comment for me. Now it was time to face the truth. So, what did I do? I went to bed and buried my head under the duvet! (In all fairness it was 11.30pm!) I totally bottled it, and spent the next few hours tossing and turning, convinced that my writing career (!!!) was over before it had even begun.

I am a skilled procrastinator, although I see it as preparing myself for any eventuality. Even when I got up this morning, did I check my messages? Oh, no, not me! I went for a walk with the dogs, a longer one than usual (after checking all of my teeth were still intact, of course). I don’t like bad news, I don’t handle criticism well, but it is a necessary evil and something I need to accept and manage better.

I eventually plucked up the courage to read the comments left.

“A most unusual story which has shades of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls in terms of the Spanish War hook, and a general sense of time travel excitement when the main character, Suzy Kendall becomes transported back to medieval Spain via the Nasrid Charm. The plot flows smoothly and with ease and it is easy to become empathetic to both Suzy and a menagerie of her friends and relations. Should do well on Authonomy. High stars and Watch-Listed. Possible bookshelf candidate when complete.”

Why oh why didn’t I read that before I went to bed? I could have saved myself from that darn dream and a restless night!

Looks like the dentures are on hold for the time being. Plan B wins the day (for now!)

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