OUAW Release and #IWSG

I’m posting a day early for Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, because I want to support my friend and critique partner Aldrea Alien in the release of Once Upon Another World. For only $0.99, you can get 20+ twisted fairytales from multiple authors, including Aldrea’s story Someone Else’s Shoes.

I hope you take a moment to go pick up a copy. I know I’ve already got mine!

As far as it being Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, well, I certainly fit the bill. A couple months back, I told all of you about the positive feedback I got for my chapters with my critique group. Well, they read the next two chapters last week and I’ve spent since then spiraling into a depressive funk. There’s been crying, drinking, binge eating, and punishing my body for the shortcomings of my brain (aka, exercise, which is actually a good thing).

I’m still not out of it.

One member of my group said, “I hope this doesn’t make you want to quit writing…” No, I won’t quit writing. I mean, I can’t. I’m not one of those writers who writes to tell stories. I’m one of those people who has characters in their brain and needs to keep pressing forward until the main character stands victorious over the enemy or slips off into the peace of the Great Beyond. Or both. Both might happen, but I don’t know yet. I don’t know yet because I haven’t written that far, therefore I can’t quit writing.

And because I want these books to be the best darn books I can produce, I won’t quit submitting these chapters to the group either. Heck, I’m the one who freaking created and manages the group because quality is important to me. I’ve just come to accept that quality writing/storytelling doesn’t come naturally to me.

So I’ve been overeating Sour Patch Kids and indulging in chocolate wine. And I’ve been rewriting. I’ve rewritten one of the two chapters they thought was so terrible that they would quit reading if this was a book they’d picked up off the shelf. I’m working on the other. This will have a trickle effect that means updates for five other chapters. On a positive note, I’m almost done with the first half of the book (Book 3; I still haven’t touched my rewrites due for Book 2). I’ve netted almost 50K since I started working on it in June. 50K of keepable content (subjectively speaking) in 3 months isn’t too shabby.

Have you ever been crushed by negative feedback? How do you cope? Did you pick up your copy of Once Upon Another World?

About Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Insecure Writers Support Group Badge
You can find the sign up for the IWSG here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

31 thoughts on “OUAW Release and #IWSG

  1. I’ve been trying to embrace the negative comments more and be more open to changing things that aren’t working for my critique partners. And it’s made my writing stronger. Keep the negative comments in perspective. That’s only two chapters that didn’t work like you thought, and you can fix them. Remember: Never give up! Never surrender!

  2. But feedback is a good thing. How many people do something and think “good enough”? They don’t seek out critique. They don’t try to make it better. They accept mediocrity and think that’s all they can do.

    You submitted your work to others to make it better. Sure, it would have been nice if your critiquers had loved the chapters. But wouldn’t you rather find out now that the chapters aren’t working rather than publish the book and *then* find out the chapters aren’t working? There’s lots of terrible writing out there, and yours *won’t be one of those*!

    You’re a good person. You’re a talented writer. So, your chapters weren’t quite there yet. They will be. You can make them better. And you’ll write better in the future because of this.

    All the greats made loads of “mistakes”. They just learned how not to do something. Every master of any discipline has made more mistakes than the beginner has ever tried. You just gained experience.

    /soapbox

  3. Hope this doesn’t make you want to quit writing – who would say something so bad they had to add that? Don’t be crushed. It’s all right.

  4. Processing negative feedback is never easy, but it’s a necessary evil. You’re a good writer. Take some time to lick your wounds then go back and write some more. You got this.

    Congrats to Aldrea! Love the graphic!

  5. That was some heavy negative feedback but you handled it well. I’m sure after a good cry though.

  6. Congrats to Aldrea, and boo to you for that feedback! That is harsh. Sometimes we need to hear it, but still. If it lights a fire under you, it’s worth it. Write your ass off and rub it in their faces. You got this.

  7. I find negative feedback is easier to handle when I take a few steps back, give it some distance so I can approach it a little more objectively.

    Hang in there, Loni!

  8. 50k of keepable content in three months is AMAZING.

    I agree with Liz’s comment. It never feels great to hear negative feedback, but it’s how we improve.

    Also…chocolate wine? This is a thing?

  9. Harsh feedback hurts, but the fact you’re not going to ever give up speaks louder than that feedback. Keep going. We all need help, and your book will only get better. <3

  10. Anna

    Sometimes, I need to write my feeling down. Express them until I’m empty. Often when I do this, I get to the root of the sadness. Then at least I can accept the sadness for what it is.

    Other times expressing myself is just venting and leads nowhere. Then I know I’m in a bout of depression. I hunker down and ride it out.

    I hope yours doesn’t last much longer. πŸ™‚

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  11. I’m so sorry that happened. What do they say, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I once had a writer tell me if she’d bought my book, she would have tossed it across the floor just on the one chapter. I was devastated. That was 1996. I never gave up either and published in 2008. Don’t ever give up.

  12. It seems to me that readers are never as cruel as other authors. I wonder whether your critique partners are the right sort of people for you, or whether you all need to learn how to give feedback better.
    Writing 50k is amazing. Yes I’m sure it can be tightened up, cliches removed, distancing words removed (he thought that… instead of getting the reader into his head for the thoughts), over-used words removed (look, in my case). I’ve just listed the start of my first edit task list, by the way!
    Keep up the good work, and remember, IWSG is here for you!
    Jemima

  13. JQ Rose

    I don’t mind bad feedback, IF the person offers me suggestions on how to fix it. But just to tell a writer the story is bad is no help at all. That’s just mean. Then I look for revenge and read her submission and tear it apart. Naw, not really, but you know you want to! LOL I think about everything I write has to be rewritten over and over and over. The first writing is never right. Sometimes it’s a blessing if I lose a chapter cause then I write a new one that is better. Go figure!!
    You’ll get there after you’re done grieving for your lost work.
    JQ Rose

  14. C. Lee McKenzie

    It’s always hard to get critical feedback. When that happens I usually let the edits wait and think about what the comments were really about. Some I ignore. That’s my right. I’m the one in charge here. But others I take to heart and try to work through. Someone saw something I didn’t. Why? If I make that change will it improve my ms? By the time I get to this part, I’m ready to edit and I’ve forgotten how rotten the critique made me feel. Hang in there. You’ll be fine and your writing will improve with each of these hurdles.

  15. Feedback like that is necessary, but we also deserve to pout over it some. As long as you are picking yourself back up and getting back to work, then have a pity party.

  16. Processing negative feedback is really tough. My writing critique group has a rule – every critique must include positives as well as negatives and questions. The positives keep me going sometimes, especially when the questions (as well as the critique) seems to show everyone is on a different page than I hoped for.
    When I’m really struggling, I write something just for me, go for a walk, or pet my dog and cat (they might actually my struggles, hmm.)

  17. I hate negative feedback. I think writers able to deal with it are totally courageous. You’re a damn hero for trying to re-write your story as a response to the negative feedback. I wish you the best of luck.

  18. I like to divide my feedback into groups. Things that multiple people I trust agree on. Things that–once I’ve had time to think about it–I agree with… Things that could be completely subjective, and aren’t necessarily fact.
    Ultimately, if they only told you the happy stuff, you wouldn’t be able to trust their opinion.
    Always remember that problems you can see are fixable.

  19. Crushed wouldn’t be the right word. I’ve been disheartened by feedback, but usually by the next day, I’m ready to work on the manuscript again, trying to fix what my critique partners didn’t like. Blind optimism, I guess.

    I’ve read some of your stuff, so I know you can write. I turned in cringe-worthy stuff to my critique group for years. The comments were kind of wishy-washy, mostly because I had so many problems they didn’t know where to begin. If your critique partners can zero in on the things they don’t like, then you’re obviously doing a lot of it right.

    Chocolate wine, eh? I hadn’t heard of that before. Maybe I should try that.

  20. Hang in there! A harsh critique is a hard thing, for sure, but if you can see the point in what they said, you can make things better, and that’s worth it.

  21. Chocolate wine sounds like a migraine in a glass to me! As for critique: it’s all subjective. But if your chapter is self-indulgent writing without anything happening (by the characters, not to them) to further the story along, you know you have to fix it. And remember: not everyone will like everything you write.

    Ronel visiting on IWSG day Revamp Your Backlist

  22. Cathrina

    I have gotten negative feedback, which, to be honest, it hurt. But it also helps. What I don’t like about various beta readers and a critique group, is that everybody has differing opinions. One person really likes that first chapter, and another doesn’t like it. One person says to begin the book on chapter 2, and another says the beginning is spot-on. I recently had 2 editors that gave me the opposite feedback on a partial. Weird. I agree with Ronel, its all subjective. Write what you love and feel it in your heart!

  23. Yes!! My prequel book is a bit different than my series – it’s darker and more violent and it doesn’t have even a semi-happy ending, so when my main editor left me (she didn’t have time anymore) and I submitted the first draft to my new one… wow. Just. Wow. Her words were that she hated it so much that she cried from sheer hatred. In fact she put in an email in all caps “I hate it!” five times in a row. And that was just the first half of the book. She did catch that one character ended up pregnant for over a year (what happens when you move stuff around, ha ha!) so there was one good piece of feedback there, but…Needless to say it upset me, and I put the whole project on the hold for two years before I could bring myself to look at it again. I really believed it was as awful and horrible as she said. I did eventually go through it all, discover that it wasn’t that bad at all, fix that error (eek!) and add in some more details and what not, but I never addressed her main concerns because unfortunately her main concerns were that she just doesn’t like that genre. Needless to say she hasn’t edited for me since, LOL!

    • I don’t like her. She sucks whoever she is and her opinion is clearly terrible.

  24. My very first conference experience involved a type of read and critique where a panel involving an agent, an editor, and a writer critiqued an anonymous page of work. Agent Andrea Brown had nothing good to say. She ripped it apart. Took no prisoners. Even though it was anonymous, I figure everyone could tell from my bright red face that it was mine. I sent that same piece in to a contest and had one person rip me apart and the other one give a rave review that included extra points for it being something they’d buy. I, of course, just soaked up the negative the one person had said.

    On the flip side, I’ve also been part of critique groups where I didn’t feel I got much feedback or they were always playing too nice. That didn’t help anything. I hope the critique you got was at least constructive and not just ripping your work apart. Their job is to help you grow, not make you feel crappy.

    Having said all that, I’m so glad to hear you will keep going! I like C. Lee’s advice of setting it aside for a bit. It helps look for what feedback was consistent. It’s a hard year emotionally, and that feeds into our writing selves, too. I hope the hurt the critiques caused gets better.

  25. Once upon a time, I was trying so hard to be a GREAT writer that I worked and polished and worked and polished some more. Then I sent it to my mother, who was such an avid, smart reader and she read it and she simply said, “This sucks.”

    I was floored!!! I told her that you can’t just tell a writer something sucks. You have to say why it sucks and she said: I feel like you are trying so hard to impress me with all of your writing skills that you are forgetting the story. Don’t try to impress me. Just tell me the damn story.

    I’ve read your work, so I can say this without it being pandering- you ARE a great writer. You’re talented and creative and I always enjoy your stories.

  26. I’m sorry you had tough feedback. πŸ™ Honestly? I crumble inside and tell myself how worthless I am if it’s anything less than glowing (and it usually is) so you can understand how much fun with it I have as well. But like you said, you’re a writer. You’ll keep writing because it’s in you. The thing is you’re going to come back to it, so let the comment(s) settle in and then brush them to the side once you’ve squeezed out all the assistance it offers to make your story better.

    That’s what I tell myself: how can I use this to make the story better? Once I remove the emotion, it helps a bit. I will still wallow in despair, don’t get me wrong, just not as much. πŸ™‚

    You are a smart, amazing writer, so I know you’ll use these critiques to make your stories the best they can be!

  27. That’s some harsh feedback but I’m glad it inspired you to dig deep with the edits. Sometimes we need that. I just hope some constructive suggestions came along with the adverse comments. Quitting? Erm, not an option for me either. Congrats to Aldrea.

  28. Yes, it’s take a beat (or two) to move past the negative stuff to get in the right space to write.

    Um, and chocolate wine? Is that a real thing?

  29. Jennifer Lee Hawes

    Negative feedback is the worst and the best! It’s a necessary evil if we want our writing to be top notch. I feel ya, girl! Don’t let it define who you are.

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