Sometimes Someone Needs to Say You Suck

Well, okay, maybe not, "You suck!" verbatim, but something at least along the lines of "Uh, you might wanna rethink this," or, "Sorry, not feeling it."

That person is hopefully someone whose input you've actually asked for, like a critique partner, or a beta reader. Sometimes, if you don't have someone to tell you when you suck, your have a harder time feeling good about the times you don't suck.

It has been a very long time for me to have a person to tell me when I suck. A. Very. Long. Time. It's no one's fault, because life happens, and the people who used to tell me when I suck are terribly busy with the life happening. Starting new careers, reproducing humans, reproducing more humans, surgeries, education. It's tough enough (though worth it and never impossible) to keep up with being friends, let alone getting told I suck.

I'm busy, too. I went back to school. *pauses for applause*. I'm literally a soccer/basketball/band mom to three fledgling male humans (sometimes more, depending on whether or not any of my "might as well be half mine, anyway" kids are over--right now I have at least one of them every day between 7AM and noon). I have a husband who works hours that suit us, but would seem wonky to the rest of the world (We often get up at 6 or 7, send off small people to school, and then go back to bed until 10 or 11). I study Korean on the side. I have a metric crap-ton of creative hobbies--knitting, origami, watercolors, illumination, doing weird things to my hair.

Point being, I have a lot to distract me from writing, and not a lot of people to harass or encourage me when I slack--not writers who have an insider's idea of how that can be problematic.

BUT! Recently, I got one (yes, I make her sound like a scarf I found in a shop). We agree on about 92% of the stuff we talk about, which is great, but I think that 8% we disagree about is more helpful, because it means I have to look at something differently, and that's what I need. I need a point of view that can clearly say, "You suck," when I need it (J doesn't ever actually say I suck, and she's much more tactful than am I, but you get the idea). Sometimes she gives me a little poke and virtually whispers, "This sounds too formal," or, "You're trying too hard, here." I'm finding that invaluable. She also says lovely things, things that make me feel wonderful, but it's the troubles she points out that almost make me feel better.

Because would she highlight the bad if she didn't believe in my ability to improve upon it? Probably not. I wouldn't. I say evil things to her all the time. I question things in her writing mercilessly. Why? Because I'm pretty sure she's got the gumption to figure out the answers and apply them.

Yeah, it's hard to accept our own suckation, and our first instinct is to resent being called out on it. I am a generally aggressive, defensive, prickly person, I know, but it's a serious leveling up in your maturity game if you can begin looking at constuctive criticism as a positive thing.

Think of it as someone's faith in you.

Personal Note: No lady, that's not Sebastien Solis; that's my kid.

Hello, 13-year-old supermodel.


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