Fight the good fight

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
We've all heard stories about editors who "passed" on manuscripts that became best sellers. We wonder how they could have been so blind. We think we would never make such a terrible mistake. But to be honest, when faced with the unfamiliar, it's easy for anyone to "pass."

We may rationalize anything that doesn't make sense with a critical response. "It can't be me, so it must be you." However, the ones who persevere through negative responses are the true artists, those not swayed by others.

Artists and leaders are unique in that they offer their vision to the world with every word, melody, product, or system they create. Writers also are on the forefront of change. We may have a new or unique vision, and the critics may not be ready.

My advice is to be kind to the critics. Give them time to catch up to you. They may not know you, and may not be ready for what you have to say. There is no right time for creativity, and it may strike you in an unlikely place in an unlikely way. You need to be ready to defend your work, and explain or rewrite it in a way that makes it more relatable, and hopefully, marketable.

Critics also have not had time to keep up with the information in your head. Your idea may have been percolating for a long time, but most of it is beneath the surface inside your brain, like an iceberg. You've seen the part sticking out of the water and the huge foundation underneath, because you built it. But others may come upon it like the Titanic approached that other fateful iceberg. They weren't expecting it, and may need a time to figure out what's happening. Give them a minute to catch up. Help them readjust their thinking.

Fighting the good fight to get your ideas out in the world can take many different forms, like a book you've been writing for months, or the perfect essay that has been rewritten 15 times with help from your writer's group. It also may take the form of conquering rejections by sending out a manuscript immediately to someone else.

Artists consider rejection a challenge that comes with a decision. The choice is yours. Listen to the critics and take what you need, or ignore them altogether. You have to decide. It's your view, and that view may be different from every other view in the world, but it's up to you to defend, explain, or rewrite.

So fight the good fight, however you see fit.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mary Horner's short story Shirley and the Apricot Tree appeared in the latest edition of Kansas City Voices. She teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--Great post. As we develop thick skin(armor) we can continue to battle.

Mary Horner said...

Thanks, Sioux!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Amen, Mary!! I love this post and totally agree. I've been in many writing groups where no one knows how to respond to my work or tell me how to improve it. I think it's exactly what you're's unfamiliar territory. I will continue to fight for my vision. Thanks for this! :)

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