Saturday, May 24, 2008

How Thick is Your Skin

As writers we are a vulnerable lot in that we put our feelings down for others to see. Granted they are in the body of a character in our work, but they are still our feelings. And everyone who puts their feelings out there can be crushed.

We have to grow a tough skin for those contest judges who “don’t know” enough to be judging a category, or that critique that hurts, or that form rejection letter or even worse the lengthy rejection letter that came so close to maybe getting published.

There have been two incidents lately in my little realm of historical writing that made me think about this topic. One is a post on my historical loop from a writer who received her judge’s comments from a “historical” contest. She said more than one judge commented she needed to explain what a “union suit” was. Anyone who reads historical knows what a union suit is! It is the one-piece underwear with a flap in the back that is still worn in some parts of the US today and used as PJ’s by some women. This is where the tough skin comes in- this writer could have thrown a tissy fit and asked what kind of judges are we getting for these contests, instead, she went on the loop and asked for different ways she could describe the clothing. Which, I feel she was accurate in just saying what it was- any true reader of historical fiction will know what she is talking about. So while she was calm, it ticked me off that someone was judging a category they shouldn’t have been.

The second incident is a writer who submitted to a publishing house and received a rejection stating her historical information and characters didn’t ring true However, her writing-grammar, spelling, prose were commended. This was an instance when a tough skin was needed, but this person didn’t have one. She sent several scathing replies to the editor.

Which of these writers will grow from the experience? Which of these writers do you think will go the farthest with their writing career?

Do you have a thick skin? Can you go the distance to be published? Do you have a thick skin story?

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