As a criminal defense attorney, I thought I had a thick skin. I’ve been stared down by the family of victims, had my integrity questioned by jurors and even had my intelligence challenged by a few of my own clients when their cases didn’t go their way. None of that bothered me. It was part of the job.
After I finished my novel, I wanted to share it with others. To my surprise I was petrified at the thought. My think skin had turned to onion paper. I almost did not take a very beneficial writing workshop because I did not want to read my work to the group.
Today, I got a refresher course in how to take it on the chin. I am entering the Amazon breakthrough novel contest which requires that you write a 300 word pitch. I called my sister and asked if she would read the pitch for me and give me her opinion. She didn’t have a lot of time, so she forwarded to a friend, “Mona” who practically inhales novels. Instead of relaying to me what Mona had to say, my sister told me Mona had a lot to say, so it would be better if I talked to her myself.
Oh boy!!! Panic set in. I thought my pitch was brilliant, but obviously, Mona did not. Mona, known for honesty and directness, in the nicest way possible basically said all but the last line sucked. She didn’t literally say “sucked,” but she felt it was a little confusing and more importantly uninteresting. Instead of going into defense mode or worse yet, questioning her intelligence, I really listened to what she had to say. She made some very good points. So I went home ate a little fried rice, scratched my head and started again. The sentence that I felt really passionate about I kept. Some of the things that she suggested I take out I did.
The most important thing was that she forced me to look at my pitch in a different light. To really consider what the reader would think. When I finished the re-write I let my hubby read it and my sister re-read. My husband, who is an avid reader and can be a tough critic, loved it. My sister thought it was MUCH better and I ultimately got the seal of approval from Mona.
So kids, the moral for today is Grow a thick skin and learn to really listen.