I spent last weekend with a group of amazing paranormal romance writers from around the world. I learned ideas and tools other paranormal romance writers have used to become successful and I would like to share one of the amazing ideas I heard.
First and foremost, I must quote Bob Mayer on writing: "[Writing] is not magic; it's hard work combined with the ability to constantly accept being critiqued and to critique oneself." (The Novel Writer's Toolkit, 2011)
This idea perfectly conveys what it means, emotionally, to become a writer. It is an endeavor that will bring joy through creation and pride when you reach completion, but as those 'highs' recede and you allow others to see your work; criticism will inevitably take their place. Only seconds before you may have been feeling confident that your work was the best you could make it, and then a well-meaning friend/paranormal romance writer/paranormal romance editor brings you back to reality—you are far from perfect and so is your work.
This idea of criticism is not exclusive to writing—No, far from it. Everyday life is much the same. It has happened to everyone at some time or another. You have poured your heart, blood, sweat and tears into a paranormal romance project only to have another immediately point out only the flaws. Thus, deflating whatever pride you have felt for accomplishing your dream.
This all sounds so negative, but unfortunately it is the reality of dirty, heart-wrenching, back-breaking Life.
Bob Mayer said something else that directly correlates to this idea: "Anything that upsets you, makes you feel bad, makes you angry, touches any emotional button is something you must focus on. We get upset whenever we hear or read something that affects us. Because we are hearing a truth, we react defensively with emotion. Our strongest defenses are built around our greatest weaknesses. As a [paranormal romance] writer, you will only get better by addressing the weakest parts of your writing. We all tend to want to focus on our strengths, but a [paranormal romance] book is only as good as the weakest part."
Ah-ha! Isn't he right?
Taking the pride-deflating lessons from above, we must use them. Yes, our egos are bruised and battered, but if we accept our weaknesses we can Learn.
Our life, and our work, can become better. Instead of being beaten down, we can dress our wounds with the bandages of learned improvement. Our weaknesses can become our strengths.
I would like to leave you with one idea: (Whether you write paranormal romance or anything at all) Don't give up after your pride is injured, or you will only ever be as good as your 'weakest part.'