Last night, I asked a friend if he hated my novel.
To set this up, it was the one friend who isn’t in my writing group. I sent my MS to him weeks ago and he avoided talking about it.
To me, that meant I was getting Ghost Read (my term for that phenomenon when someone agrees to read your work and then pretends they never received it, avoiding mention of it as if Thanos snapped it away and Doctor Strange made everyone forget you ever sent it).
But in the end, I thought, “This is stupid. I’m too old for this and too comfortable with criticism to let this happen,” so I asked that friend, point-blank, what they didn’t like about the draft.
They answered that they liked it but that they were just busy.
By which I was immediately disappointed. Not because they were busy—that was, I stressed to this friend, totally fine.
No, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear that Memory was terrible.
I wanted critique that I could turn into useful changes for the MS.
It’s a weird spot to be in after 30+ years of having a 0 in Accepting Critique. Back in the day, I’d just talk over someone giving me criticism, explaining why x element was y way.
Now, my Accepting Critique score is so far through the roof that I constantly feel like I need criticism. It’s almost like a hunger that strikes me, usually at night . . . although that’s just because my sleep schedule is still fucked and I’m always up at night.
Whatever. The point is: I’m a goddamn Criticism Vampire.
I regularly make myself coffee—the drink of writers—take a single sip, curse, and hurl it at the wall in disgust. And then I hiss, “I hungerrrr,” and text a friend like, “Dude, that one fight scene in chapter 6 sucks, amirite?”
. . . Okay, some of that was made up, but what I’m getting at here is that I really like criticism now. And yes, it is in part due to that all-too-familiar Impostor Syndrome creeping in, convincing me that Memory is actually terrible.
But what I should point out here is that none of this—the constant want of criticism, the dramatic hurling of coffee at walls while snarling like a gremlin—means that I’m going to stop working on Memory; I am past the era of my career where I drop a story halfway through and pick up a new one. If anything, all of this means I’m going to keep editing Memory until I feel it’s as strong as I can get it by February.
But I did want to share that the hunger is upon me. That I’ve come full circle from ‘being obnoxious about criticism’ to ‘being obnoxious about criticism in a bold, new way,’ and to me, that’s progress.
Also, fair warning: if you live in New York and hear a crash at 3am followed by an abomination screech, it’s cool—that’s just the hunger taking hold of me.
Thanks for reading this: what is one of my weirder posts.
My name’s Louis Santiago, and if you enjoyed, I post once a week, on either Sunday or Monday, usually focusing on my weird insights about my writing process and career. I cannot promise you I’ll talk about recent trends, but I can guarantee that whatever I post will be 100% me. If you’re on board for that, you can give me a follow via the button on the left side-bar (on PC) and the top-right hamburger menu (on mobile). As I am slowly building my super tiny platform, I really appreciate any Likes and Follows; they keep me going more than I can say in the apocalyptic nightmare that continues to be the 20’s.
Anyway, with that said, take care, stay hydrated, and see Spider-Man: No Way Home. From a dude who was absolutely sure that movie would suck, it is so good. Trust me.
Have a good week!