Most writers have horror stories, of which I have a few to to share. Hopefully it helps in some way.
The story begins with a website that went by the name iPublish--from what I know it's no longer running, at least in their old name. Aspiring writers had frequented this site seeking a friendly critique and maybe even publication. If I remember correctly, they promised a lucky (talented) writer a book deal. There was more, but this was a while back, and my memory is getting old.
A writer could post thier story and your "peers" would critique it. Depending on your score, you would move up and down the ranks. You could even reciprocate--if you liked. You could get feedback for a novel, or short story, or go for the gold and try for a publishing contract.
Who knew? Maybe even an agent or editor was lurking about, looking for new talent.
It sounded like a good idea, a site where experts and armatures in the industry could meet up. But of course, this left a huge gap for people to come in and do bad things.
Some would create fake accounts to push their stories up with fake reviews; or they would have a family member or friend rate them high and give a good review. They would then give low scores to other competing writers, and use those created accounts to attack, as well.
Some of these writers would let other writers know that it wasn't done like this, "just look at my work if you want to know exactly how it's done."
These writers preyed on the naïve with their grandiose claims.
There was a lot of headache and checking the site constantly to see if your score went up, or if some jealous writer shot it down. I found myself actually getting sick over the site, but coming back to it like a patient hooked on a drug.
Don't get me wrong, there were still a lot who were nice on the site.
I was about to hightail it out of there when an idea struck.
I started chatting with a man who told me that he was published; he was in his 50s or so, and he said he could really help me if I let him.
I typed, you know what, yes, please, I'd like that. But I had a plan. This guy was one of the higher ranked know-it-alls, and I pretty much knew what would happen.
So I set to looking around my room and found a Stephen King novel that I had just read. I typed out 2 pages from that to send to this guy.
I emailed it to him. Would he write back, wow, this is some great stuff, or would he rip it a new one and tell me it needed work?
Well, he didn't surprise me when he wrote back with all the many, many corrections.
I wrote back to him and thanked him; I said this is the best lesson I will ever get on this site, even this industry.
Sometimes you can see emotions and imagine the writers face from words, and that's what was going through my head right then and there. I saw a plump older man in his 50s, white hair. A colorful button shirt with some worn jeans, white hair puffing a little out of the top button of the shirt. Maybe a jacket with the elbow patches sewn on, sitting back with a corncob pipe, laughing at all beneath him. Ok, so maybe not so much that, but I saw him gushing through his words, like he'd really helped me--and mind you, he really did. But not as he'd like to have thought.
I thanked him for the best lesson I'd ever learn in the industry, and that he'd just ripped into two pages of a novel by a writer who most likely makes more before the print press than some see in many years of working a day job.
The same way I imagined him gushing, was the same way I saw this writer get red and then explode like a volcano. He started to erupt with hateful words and anger and all the usual goodies that go along. Like how I'd never make it with my attitude, etc etc.
I don't want to judge him, but I hate when people think their opinions are the be-all-end-all of information, when even bestselling authors go through an ongoing learning process. In fact, writers are always learning with each writing session--evolving.
The point of this story is never loose focus, keep moving forward, keep writing, and never let anyone else shoot down your dream, because if you stopped you would only be hurting yourself.
Until next time, keep writing.