It is the lot of any artist to receive criticism. It does not matter if you paint, write, cook, dance or decorate fairy cakes in the style of Attila the Hun or Jabba the Hut, if you create and hope to share your creations (possibly even with financial reward) then you are asking for someone to tell you what they think of them.
I have recently uploaded the first part of the current draft of The Book to various bookish sites where other writers can comment on my work. This is not done in the vain hope that I will be spotted like Kate Moss in a shopping centre or Justin Bieber on YouTube (once I was that naive, but we will gloss over that childish whimsical phase of my writing life). It is done purely to learn what other people think. One cannot be completely dispassionate and objective about something to which you are closely knit (just look at all those pushy parent documentaries , or even hang around handful of middle class school gates) so I knew it was time to bare all.
The comments have been coming in. I am truly grateful to everyone who has taken the time not only to read what I have written, but to have thought about it and given me constructive and useful criticism. Nobody has said it’s rubbish (perhaps they are too polite or I have failed to read between the lines) so why do I feel so flat?
A sculptor cannot redraft a statue but a writer can rewrite, redraft, tweak endlessly and suddenly I can see that the road ahead is very long indeed, and unless somebody is brutally honest and says “stop right there” I could wander along it for years believing there is an end, when in fact, in my case there isn’t.
I am not writing purely for myself. Yes, I write because I want to, I need to, I have stories I want to tell and I have characters kicking up a rumpus in my mind and if I don’t let them out heaven knows what they’ll do. But I also write because one day I want other people to read my books, one day I want my work to be in print, one day I want to earn hard cash from writing. And the reason I feel flat is because I don’t know if I ever will because I’m not sure anyone will ever tell me if I am crap.
This is NOT a request for “you’re great” posts . In fact I will not approve any such comments ! But I would like to know from other artists of any type – when and how did you know that there was a future for your work outside your own studio?