When I first started writing, I didn't let anyone but my close friends see what was on paper. Most of the time, I'd write in pen and paper, but that was also about twenty years ago. Granted, at that age, I wasn't a good writer at all. There was a lot that I needed to learn, and being twelve you think you know better than anyone else. However, I didn't, and no new writer does.
When I was fourteen I submitted my first story to be read at school. I remember the story very well, and it was crap. It revolved around a boy who couldn't tell the difference between dreams and reality. In all the dreams he died, and in the end he was shot by a school shooter. It was bad. However, because that story was given to my English teacher, he sent me to see the school shrink. Kind of put a damper on me wanting other people to see my writing. Maybe the worst part of all, the bastard never gave me my extra credit.
Why did I tell that story? Well, it all comes down to how to take advice and critique. If my story was bad, and it was, that I had to have chunks of my day talking to the shrink for a few weeks, it seemed like it would have been a good time to quit. But I didn't.
At the same time, I just assumed that he didn't like my story. He didn't give me any feedback on it, if he had, I may have learned some things. Instead, I was forced to wonder why I didn't get the credit, and figured it was due to the subject matter. That started to change the more I read and the more I wrote. When I was eighteen, I submitted a few stories and a poem to different publications. Most of which I didn't even get a response back from. It was about this time that I learned the joys of beta readers.
The first person who I let read one of my stories told me I should quit. My story was horrible, more so because of what it was about than because of how it was written. Even more great feedback. But then I found someone who was willing to sit down with me and go over some of the actual problems with the story. That first time I got some real feedback felt great. It felt like I was actually going to have something publishable. I revised the story with what the person had said, sent it out to some different magazines, and still got rejected.
I moved, lost the one person who was actually helpful, and kept writing. All the time, because I was doing it more and reading more, my writing had improved little by little. It was when I was in my early twenties that I heard about creepypasta. I read a few of the stories and realized that I could do better than Jeff the Killer, and submitted my first story on this site. It was one that I was hoping to get published in a SciFi magazine, but it wasn't good enough. That story is still on this site: To the Moon.
Because I had written it and felt it was good, I was happy that it didn't get rejected. This, however, was maybe the best story I had written up until that point. After that, and that it wasn't removed, I felt that I was a great writer. Wrote some other schlock, and published it on the site. It was taken down really quick.
Here is where I started to really get my first feedback. Other people, better writers than I was at the time, had all come together to help me become a better write. This was what I was craving and needing. The people here took me under their wing, showed me some of the basic things that needed to be changed, and helped me improve as a writer. From there, I found a group of other people, who had helped even more. It was a privet group that would just send each other stories and help them to find a home for it. Granted, most of the things I write are kind of weird, and its hard for them to find a good home. Because of that, I've posted them on this site if they were rejected from pro rate paying magazines.
Most of those stories have been removed by me, because I wanted to hold onto them. However, There is still at least one that I kept on this site: Jenna. This is where I was told how to work on editing, and how important it is. It didn't click until recently, how much work it takes to edit something to be an actual good story.
So, with all that failure, all the bad responses or no response at all, what did I learn. There are a good number of people who don't know how to give advice. Anyone who doesn't point out the problems with a story, in my opinion, isn't worth wasting your time on with the comments. Then, there are people who do give advice, and the best thing to do is listen to what they say. That doesn't mean to take it as truth, but if you keep hearing the same things, maybe that's something that should be changed. Sometimes it's hard to hear that the story you worked so hard on, isn't ready to be published. Sometimes it sucks that you hear what you put your heart and soul into isn't worth a damn, and it won't be accepted on a site with standards as low as those set here.
This is when it comes to you as a person to decide what you want to do. Do you have thick skin? If not, you'll never make it as a writer. You have to put yourself and your work out there to be criticized. There is no point expecting on being coddled, you're putting it out there for others to read, and not everyone is going to like your work. If you're able to make it through the first ten, fifty, one-hundred times of being rejected, you'll be able to start publishing things, so long as you learn from your mistakes.
This site, while many people think the standards are too high, is a great place to learn the craft. It won't teach you the more nuanced stuff, like cutting repetition or how to make a story flow the best it can. That isn't to say there aren't people who point that out here, it's just not as common as it could be. The people here aren't out to get you, and they do want to see your writing improve. So, take what they say and use it to your benefit. No one is attacking you, they want to help.
If you get upset, and it isn't uncommon to get upset when something you put a piece of yourself into is shot down or torn apart, just remember that those people are trying to help. It takes a long time to get good at something. Don't get discouraged because you didn't nail it the first time. If that is the only way you feel that you're going to get anywhere with any kind of artistic endeavor, you're in the wrong place. Art is one of the hardest aspects of get into, unless it's a website that has no guidelines at all, but then, you're not going to improve.
Take the bumps on the chin, learn from your mistakes, and don't go after people because they pointed out some of your flaws. It's one thing to write a story, it's another for that story to be any good. If I gave up when I was sent to the shrink, I would have felt empty. We don't write because we make money from it, or to become famous. We write because we like to. We love that we can take an idea from our minds and put it into someone else's. It's almost a form of ESP.
At this point, I have been published outside of this site, been paid for my writing, placed in contests, and am working on getting a novel published. I wouldn't be able to have done any of that if I gave up. I wouldn't have been able to do any of that if I got mad when someone told me my story was crap. It takes determination and the will power to take the bumps and keep moving. There isn't one famous author that didn't get rejected before. There isn't one that had their feelings hurt because someone pointed out the flaws in their writing. There also isn't one who gave up, because once you give up, your chances of improving go down to zero.
In writing you have to be a masochist, because you're going to be getting a lot of punishment. Turn the other cheek and say "thank you mistress, may I have another." Until the point that the pain lessens, and you're able to see that they weren't trying to hurt you at all. Those people were trying to help you become the best writer you could be. Know the flaws in your writing, and work on fixing them. If you can't identify them yourself, and that is kind of hard to do, then your readers will point them out for you. Learn from what they say are your weak points, and work on fixing those. Take the pain, anger, fear, and any other emotions you may feel from the feed back, and use it to write a story that is better than the last. Overtime, you'll get to a point that is far better than what you had hoped for.
Thanks for reading this, and allowing me to do a little shameless self promotion in it. Hopefully this helps someone when they feel that everyone is against them and trying to pull them down. We aren't, we're trying to build you up.