DIGGING THROUGH GARBAGE TO FIND THE GOLD
“Don’t mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified it is not criticism, learn from it.” ~ Anonymous
I’ve been writing professionally for thirteen years. Criticism and rejection are the weights that strengthen the writer’s muscle. In order to survive, we must develop a thick skin. New York Times best-selling author, Steve Berry, addressed this while speaking to the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. conference. He advised us to be teachable and listen to the critiques on our prose. Seventy percent may be garbage but thirty percent will be pure gold.
This is a good word for when we enter contests. I sponsor a contest for the Ozark Creative Writers Conference. I've had 24 entries, all of which were first place quality pieces. However, I could only give one first place award. It bothered me that those who won 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mentions would think their writing wasn't good enough. Even more so, those who won no mention at all probably thought their work wasn't good at all!
It was, believe me, it was!
Conversely, I've judged contest where not one single entry merited any mention at all, but I had to give a first place. It bothered me to give the impression that the piece was publishable.
It wasn't, believe me, it wasn't!
When you do not place in a contest, take an honest look at your piece. Invite critique. Be teachable. That said, be selective like you are at a buffet. Most of us do not load everything offered on our plates. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
As Steve Berry advises, dig through the garbage and find the gold!