(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: the Malo Mart song from Twilight Princess)
Well, here we are.
As a Christmas gift, my older brother purchased a subscription to a MasterClass on writing for me. If you, like me before December, have never heard of MasterClass, they’re exactly what you’d expect – classes on skills (vocational and otherwise) as taught by masters of the craft. They have Steve Martin teaches comedy; Christina Aguilera teaches singing; and my newest excitement, James Patterson teaches writing.
It is a testament to my laziness that I haven’t started the MasterClass until just today. Still, better late than never, right?
Anyway, I wanted to share the love with all of you new writers looking for inspiration, so I’ll be starting a new series of posts in which I take a tidbit from a lesson I’ve been given in MasterClass and examine it here. If you at any point want to read just those posts, I’ll be placing them all in one catagory for easy back-to-back reading.
So, to business. Today I watched the introductory lesson and then Lesson 2, which was about passion in writing. The tidbit I really wanted to take away was this:
“You have to pick out the advice you can handle.”
Such an incredible bit of wisdom, thrown casually in between other words as though it deserved no standout. I’ve been a writer for some time now, and I still face problems with this, which is why I chose it over all the other optimistic “don’t worry about rejection, just keep plugging” messages in the lesson.
When I started writing (and when I witness a lot of other new writers examining their own writings), I could not divorce myself from my work. I was like a high-school geek with his first significant other – inseparable, whiny, and all too prone to raging at the slightest criticism of our ‘relationship’.
I remember one time I was talking with my two older brothers (I will be calling them Ram and Goat, even though I don’t think they care if their names are dropped) about the naming system in one of my recently finished manuscripts, and Ram told me one of the names of my tribes was not great. I told him to piss off. Then Goat and Goat’s girlfriend agreed with him and proceeded to explain why, and I broke down crying. Like an actual toddler.
I couldn’t explain why; it was just a bit of honest criticism, well-delivered and ill-received. But as I sat in the car while the others left for the restaurant, I realized just how close everything was to me emotionally. I really, honestly couldn’t hear the slightest bit of criticism from anyone at that point in my writing career.
I like to believe I’m better off now; if someone criticizes my writing I have the emotional fortitude excuse myself, to go to my room, and then burst into tears.
Okay, but all jokes aside. The one thing your non-writer betas will have a hard time understanding is why you beg them for criticism and then seem to get super offended when they offer it. It’s not their job – it’s yours, as a writer, to recognize how close you are to your work and what you can and cannot hear at that time. Be brutally honest with yourself about whether you can hear a critique; better your brutal honesty than someone else’s.
Or, to save 550 words, I could just refer you back to the quote. “You have to pick out the advice you can handle.”