Sunday, July 10, 2011

Like It, Hate It, Love It

Early this spring, I submitted work to a few writing contests. Being that it was my first attempt at contest entry, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Yesterday, I received results for the first contest.

The good news is that I wasn't last. The bad news is that I didn't win. I fell somewhere in the middle, which at first made me want to vomit. Then I realized that's pretty good for a first try.

Being an artist, of any medium, is a study in contradiction. An artist has to be emotional, creative, and imaginative. Writer, painter, or photographer, you also need to be able to shield yourself from bad advice and view even good critiques with skepticism.

This particular writing contest reminded me of a painting competition I once entered. One judge told me, when viewing my painting, "I don't get it. It's not very good. You should have entered something else."

I placed first-in-show and sold the piece for $450. That's the problem with art. It's all subjective.

Back to the results of the writing contest. I received three reviews and they were all completely different.
  • One judge loved it, said she wanted to read more, and only had a few revisions to suggest.
  • One judge liked it, thought it had great potential, and suggested a ton of editing.
  • One judge hated it, thought I was probably an illiterate kindergartner, and suggested my idea wasn't even remotely marketable.
Again, with the wanting to vomit.

So, what do you do when someone tells you that you aren't good enough? Should you ignore them? Tell them to go F*ck themselves? Maybe. But probably not.

In the end, after I had a 30 minute pity party, I realized (with great reluctance) that each judge had made some useful comments. I sat down and reworked this particular piece of writing and now have six polished pages that are far better for the effort.