I’ve read that there are five stages to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I think these apply to the many forms of death we encounter in life. Not just the physical, but the emotional and psychological deaths. The death of one’s hopes, one’s beliefs, one’s dreams.
But today, I want to talk about the death of one’s perceptions. Specifically as they relate to a novel.
We are all told once we finish and polish our manuscript we should put it through critique groups and get feedback on it.
But most of us are not ready yet. And even when we are ready, it’s a painful process.
We think this manuscript is perfect. We’ve improved it as much as we can, so in our eyes it is.
Then the feedback comes. People telling us what is wrong, not working, confusing, what needs to be better developed, what should be cut.
And that is when the grieving process kicks in.
It’s the death of our initial perception of our work. Our belief that the book is ready to be published.
Every time I get feedback, I go through these stages. Even when I know the book is a draft and needs work. It’s still my best draft.
Denial: This is where I decide the other person’s opinion doesn’t matter. That they are wrong. This usually lasts 3-24 hours.
Anger: This is where I look at the feedback again and feel like they are picking on me. This is usually 4-12 hours.
Bargaining: This is where I think maybe this feedback has some validity. Okay, I’ll try some of these changes, but I still think half of them are dead wrong. 10-24 hours.
Depression: This is where I realize many of the comments are valid and I see how much work is in front of me. This can last a day to a week.
Acceptance: This is where I remind myself I want to write the best book I can. And this feedback will get me there. I start making the changes and I see how much they help. And I accept the death of my belief that the manuscript was good as I work to make it better.
How do you feel about feedback? How do you process it?