After my unpleasant experience with my query letter in Absolute Write Water Cooler, I started to doubt myself. I had visions of the people in American Idol who sing their hearts out thinking they're good. Poor things. Every talent has similar Idol wannabes. I've met several writers who were so bad, I instantly thought of William Hung. The sad fact of the matter is writers can't judge their work as effectively as critiquers can. With trepidation, I posted my first chapter on the site.
Everyone unanimously hated it.
I agreed with their critiques and graciously deleted it and submitted a second chapter. To my surprise, they hated that one too. Starting to get frustrated, I switched the third chapter with the second chapter, making the third the first, the second the second, and so fourth. Finally, people said it was the right place to start my book.
Critiques hurt, but they're also a huge blessing. They kept apologizing to me for being brutal, but I kept telling them I was grateful. Since I graduated college, I had no one to help me become a better writer. One bad critique can improve my writing more than twenty writing sessions on my own. After all, if I knew what I was doing wrong, I wouldn't do it wrong.
The way I see it, writers have three choices. They can:
- Get rejected by a critiquer who explains why
- Get rejected by an agent who doesn't explain why
- Get rejected by readers when it's too late to fix it
By the way, the worst critique I ever had came from my second chapter. Half way through, someone got bored and wrote in the margin "I'm losing the will to live." Ouch. I asked her to read more of my stuff and she gave me some of the best advice I've ever had.