Emotional Critiques

It’s well know that I don’t want an honest critique on my novels or picture books! But for some reason, people keep giving me exactly what I don’t want.

Conflicting Emotions of Receiving a Critique

Yesterday, when my local critique group talked about my latest picture book manuscript, three emotions held sway.

  • Embarrassment. I am always embarrassed when someone reads one of my works-in-progress, because it’s, well, not perfect. I know it’s not finished, it’s a draft. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed, that everyone has to go through drafts. Yet, every time, I just want to hide. I want to cry. I am totally and thoroughly embarrassed.
  • Outrage. What? You don’t understand that part of my story? It’s perfectly clear! Did you even read it? Even while embarrassment reigns, I’m also outraged that the readers didn’t understand my story, didn’t agree with my wording, didn’t feel the emotion that I know I evoked. Yes, I’m mad. At myself, as much as you, but I channel all that outrage toward you.
  • Working it Out. But even while I’m embarrassed and outraged, I’m rewriting in my head. Oh, if THAT is what bothers you, I could do this or that, or say it this way. I won’t let on, of course, that I’m doing that, because then you would be right (see above!). But I’m doing it. Absolutely. Every time. Because I know that I’m trying to communicate something and if you don’t get it, then my communication isn’t clear and I’ve GOT to fix it. The rational brain is there, behind the emotions, clearly, calmly trying to figure out how to communicate EXACTLY what I want. Not what you want me to communicate. But what I want to communicate.

Critique group, I love you. But don’t let it go to your heads. Because I’m still mad at you! BTW, for the next meeting, I’m bringing a revised version of that last story back for a fresh look.