I have a friend who I’ve known since high school who is also a writer. He hasn’t published his first work yet, although I understand it’s in late stage editing and beta reading now, so it will be out soon (Stephen, send me a link as soon as it’s up, I’ll link it here). Anyway, he read A Long Walk and gave me honest feedback. That means it was a bit harsh – but it needed to be. Honestly, I’ve had an issue getting people to say bad things about the book. Either I’m a freaking genius who produced a perfect first work, or people are being nice to me. I’m inclined to suspect the latter. Stephen confirmed it.
Now, his honest review, both in person and on Amazon, still had a lot of positive (could have still been being nice, but I trust him). From my perspective, that gives me something to work, a direction to take to grow as a writer – I feel a lot better about the book with some of the flaws pointed out to me. He referred to my tension and action as Clinical. I re-read some passages, and yup, that’s completely accurate. I, of course, couldn’t see that as I was writing, because that’s not how the creative process works. The flaws we see ourselves are likely to be completely unrelated to the ones other people see.
So, that’s the reality of feedback. It makes me happy, it makes me feel like I’m a better writer, to have some negative, not just strictly positive. In fact, it’s really my only requirement of readers, that they give me unvarnished, honest responses. So far, everyone is so bloody nice about it.