A few years back, I had an opportunity to have a critique by a pretty experienced (and retired) editor. I was unrepresented, unsold and sure she was going to grab my manuscript and do a jig on the table whilst naming off a list of her friends in the industry she would be sending it to.
Instead, she looked at me thoughtfully and said, "I just don't know why anyone would care."
Meaning...there was nothing to compel her to read.
She noted the writing was nice...that the "rules" were being followed for story and character development. But it was still lacking something.
It hurt to hear but it was a pivotal moment in my writing life.
In that moment, I had a choice.
I could feel deflated and whine about what a mean critique it was and crawl under my bed and call all my writerly friends and eventually decide she didn't know what she was talking about
I could listen to that little voice inside of me that said, "she is right". I could lean forward and ask her how to fix it, I could believe that she knew faaaarrr more than I ever would about what makes a book salable.
I chose to listen. I put aside my pride and stayed up all night revising (we were at a conference and I had a follow up meeting w/ her). I tore apart the first chapter. I did exactly what she suggested, while still being true to myself as a writer.
Here is what I'm saying: her honesty was an amazing gift.
She was not being unkind, she was trying to HELP me. It was a step I needed to take that would later prepare me for receiving edit requests from my agent and editor.
I would have missed an important lesson if I wouldn't have taken what she had to say to heart.
So...on this long and sometimes bumpy road to publication and hopeful more publication here is my question for all of us:
Can we handle the truth?