I’ve never been good at failure. When I was captain of the netball team at school we lost a match against our rivals and I refused to cheer them, despite it being standard post-match etiquette. Thus, I often find criticism hard to take.
When it comes to writing, however, I welcome it. I’m forever asking friends and family to read my work and give me feedback, hoping for an objective opinion and advice on how I can improve. And having recently began to work on my book again after almost a two-year break, I decided to submit part of it to Lorraine Mace who offers a professional critiquing service, knowing that her knowledge and experience would give me substantial food for thought.
For me, writing can become a bit of an addiction when I’m on a roll, but having submitted my 5,000 words I made the decision to wait until I had received Lorraine’s feedback before adding to my work. And thus the next ten days were spent metaphorically sitting on my hands trying to avoid the temptation to write.
And so, seeing an email in my inbox today from Lorraine brought with it a sense of both excitement and anxiety. I was eager to hear her thoughts and advice but equally apprehensive as to how much work might be required to implement improvements.
There were three parts to the critiquing service: an annotated version of my text with suggested changes, my original synopsis, again, marked up with suggestions on how to improve it and finally a three page report which covers manuscript presentation, title, opening paragraphs, story resolution, setting, dialogue, characterisation and an overall assessment.
I took a deep breath before reading the report and by the time I got to the end of it my initial reaction was to cry. It wasn’t due to a harsh critique, but more to do with the fact that it dawned on me just how much work I will need to put into my novel to make it a success. With the exception of the setting, Lorraine had gone through each element of the book and made a number of suggestions for improvement and consideration.
Rather than cry, I printed off her report and made a list of points to consider and ways in which I could implement them. And while it’s hard not to be down-hearted when faced with critique in indelible black and white, Lorraine was encouraging and constructive in her feedback and I am determined to take on board all the advice she has offered in order to make my book the very best it can be.