When I first got back the personal essay I submitted during my 5-week writing-for-magazines class, I cringed at the amount of red ink covering the pages.

“I’ll never get this right,” I cried inwardly. But then I remembered a comment my teacher at Gotham Writers Workshop said to me after a particularly brutal critique, “All I want is to have you be a better writer.”

I brought the most recent piece to my Visions team for their feedback. “Look at it as mentorship, Jane,” one member said. “Would you prefer that all you heard back was ‘great‘?

He’s totally right. I’m learning tons from the feedback. Another person in that group said, “View the red marks as love,” which I also appreciated. This teacher loves me a lot. She used a lot of precious red ink on my five pages.

If you’re competing in a market like publishing, which is extraordinarily competitive, you need brutally honest and constructive criticism. I’m getting it in spades. Big risks, big rewards.

I have to keep toughening my soul to accept that I, too, am a work in progress. One famous editor (if you can come up with his name, I’ll praise you in my next posting…) said about his job of correcting his authors’ pages, “I imagine that I’m writing on their skin.”

I recently felt as though I’d been tattooed. I’ve gone over every edit and made the requested changes including re-writing parts that were too cerebral and not emotional enough.

I can’t wait to get published so you can see the product of all that input.


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