I received another critique for "Desert Muse" today from someone in my writer's group, who seemed like a pro.
While the general message was, "Your story was very good", I completely forgot about all of that, and instead looked at all the strikes and comments he did to my story! He tore it to pieces! He had this cool editing progam that made speech bubbles with his comments in them all over my manuscript. He did admit that my writing was florid and wordy. He cut out many things and said I needed better descriptions of visions and time.
It hurt. It really did. I wasn't angry at him, really, more angry at myself. He acted like he was pro (he could be an actual published writer, I suspect), and with all the strikes made to my work I felt like I had just broken in on his classy dinner party while wearing a mud-spattered paper bag. I embarassed myself in front of a professional writer with a horribly amateurish manuscript! How will I ever be a writer? Look at all the horrible mistakes I made!
I'm always reading in Writer's Digest and in writing guides how every writer, professional or not, often has moments when they feel that their editor has just molested their story, and begin to search police stations to see if there's a warrant out for a mysterious figure notorious for slashing innocent manuscripts to death. I hate to say that I didn't think it would happen to me, but I did. There's that crazed over-confidence again - I send in my story with absolutely no idea how anyone in their right mind could possibly find anything the matter with it. It's easy to accept criticism when it comes layered in swathes of glorious praise - and it's hard to accept compliments when they come edged with heartless correction.
I know I'll get over it, eventually, and it will certainly come in very handy next week, when I will polish off the final draft of "Desert Muse" and send it in to Challenging Destiny. Good criticism is like yucky cold medicine - you never feel good about taking it until later.