Yes, your baby may be ugly.

Mine was and I just had to face the facts. Eight years ago I started writing a novel. I finished it 6 years ago and sent out 50 query letters to literary agents. When I received the 50th rejection letter, I gave up. Recently, I decided to look at it again. Follow my dreams, etc, etc. Man, it was a mess. It made me cringe.  A lot of the writing was cheesy and the organization was haphazard. I mentioned these things the other day to my wife, Sandra and she looked at me cross-eyed. Doesn’t she know her eyes could freeze like that? Anyway, she said that she told me these very things years ago and I wouldn’t listen to her. Instead I got defensive. I do have to confess that I have a tendency to think that everything I write is a perfect masterpiece and if someone critiques me it’s because they just don’t plain get it.

Six years ago when I finished the manuscript I was too close to it; too emotionally invested in it. It was my baby, my first born (literary speaking) and I had just birthed it. When someone says that your newborn baby is ugly, you get ticked off right? But as your baby grows into a little girl and you can be honest with yourself, you may have to admit, at least privately, “Yeah, she ain’t the prettiest thing, but she’s mine and I love her”. You might still get upset if other people call her ugly, but at least you can see their point. Well, six years removed from my novel, I can honestly say that it’s not the prettiest thing either.

When criticism comes, I need to learn to suppress my instinctive reaction to be defensive and offended and allow this criticism to rise up and measure it for value. The critics are rarely trying to hurt me, but even if they are ill-motivated, their words may contain specks of truth that I can use for positive course corrections. Chew the meat. Spit out the bones. If I’m ever going to be a published author, I will have to learn to deal with criticism. Publishing companies will pay people to criticize my work professionally; they are called editors.

My baby may be ugly now, but that doesn’t have to be her destiny. With the iron sharpening iron help from wise, gifted people (like my wife, Sandra), the ugly duckling could transform into a beautiful swan.

But if not, she’s still mine and I’ll love her.

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