Writers are supposed to develop a thick skin so we can deal with all the nit-picks and criticisms we get. No problem, I got that. There are a lot of careers (and I dipped my toe in most of them) where that is true. I can listen to people take my work apart all day long, as long as it’s stuff I already know about or they are just plain wrong.
Most of the time, critiques aren’t a problem. Minor fixes, pointing out and clarifying problems I knew were there, but still needed help nailing down. Not a problem. When it’s clear that the critic just didn’t get it or wanted me to write a different story, I can ignore them with ease. It’s what we are supposed to do.
It’s when a critic finds a deep rooted problem, one that I wasn’t aware of or thought I’d dealt with, that I have an issue. When the advice is good I react emotionally. I rage at the critique (I try not to rage at the critic, it tends to scare them). I try to ignore it. I pull out all the stops and have a good crying, screaming, rolling on the floor and kicking my feet temper tantrum. I scare my cats. I make my husband ask why I do this to myself.
I don’t really know why I rage at good advice. I know that the better the advice, the longer the tantrum.
It’s a good measure for me, but the tantrum gets in the way of actually putting the advice to good use. While I’m in the tantrum, I can’t focus on the work in question. I can get other writing done, just not that one. It can put my schedule off in so many ways.
I think the temper tantrum might be cover for my subconscious mind to figure out how to deal with the advice. It needs to be incorporated into the story, and story comes from the subconscious.
For example, most recently one of my critique partners pointed out how my writing wasn’t really showing the story. It was telling the story. As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. Then I flew into a rage and just couldn’t look at the story for almost a week. Now that I’m working on it again, I can see how the story has evolved to allow me to put the showing in.
This is just a guess though, and maybe next time I get some good writing advice, I’ll notice something else.
What I know is that good writing advice comes with an emotional storm.