Confessions of an approval junkie

A week ago I posted about a poetry workshop I planned to attend with Fred Chappell. He’s a pretty renowned poet and author and I was excited to be part of his class. And it was a really good class.

He asked each of the 15 participants to bring three poems we wanted to discuss. I picked three that I thought ranged from okay to pretty good. As it turned out, we each had to pick ONE of those three for the class to talk about. This presented a quandary. Did I read the one that I thought was pretty good in order to impress everyone? Or did I pick the okay one because I could actually use some feedback to help me improve it? Did I want to invite praise or criticism?

Ugh. I do so love praise.

I ultimately read my least favorite of the three and was rewarded with a nice mix of positive feedback with some suggestions for improvement. Basically, I got affirmation and assistance. Nice.

Today I was faced with a similar quandary. I’m going to a writer’s retreat in October and a multi-published author of Christian fiction is offering critiques. She said she’d be happy to read my synopsis and first 20 pages. Enter the quandary. Do I send her the book that was a semi finalist in the Genesis Contest so she sees what a good writer I am? Or do I send her the book that I know needs fixing so she can help me fix it?

Of course, the real problem here is that no matter how good I think the writing is or how ready I think my books are for publication . . . I’m wrong. So I sent the book I know needs work. And I clamped down on the urge to tell this award-winning author that if she wants to read a really good book, I can send her that, too.

As I said to a friend earlier this week. I am a vain, vain woman.

7 thoughts on “Confessions of an approval junkie

  1. Sarah, I think that all authors are vain on some level! We have to believe we’re good writers, otherwise, why would we waste our time w/it?

    The key is being willing to accept valid critiques, and sounds like you’re doing just fine in that dept. Feedback on how to improve is such a great resource, and one I’ve finally learned to take without taking it PERSONALLY!

  2. Mom

    What happened to the last sentence? (the version I read that came in my email.) As I commented on FB, there is a difference between confident and vain. And I think you took the braver and better route in both of your choices!

  3. Heather

    It is definitely hard to get criticism! Praise is so much more comforting… I am glad you are trying to grow and have recognized that constructive criticism is helpful on that path. I need to be reminded of that too.

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