Virginia was a writing student of mine, anxious to share her first story with her more experienced friend. Virginia figured Wanda would be encouraging and helpful, since Wanda had written a novel of her own.
This is not what happened.
Wanda barely let Virginia finish the first sentence before she jumped in with a correction. She laughed at a grammar error in the opening line. She questioned word choice after word choice. Virginia didn't even get to share the entire story (and it was only three pages).
What Virginia didn't understand is that Wanda had only written one book - ever - over twenty years. It was her "life's work." In fact, Wanda was still writing the book - editing, revising, correcting, fussing. Wanda was not friendly with the creative process; she wasn't creating.
It takes courage to come up with something new. A dang lot of courage. Wanda was not nurturing newness. She had lost Virginia's experimenting, what-if attitude. Instead she had made a practice of forever recycling the one spark she'd had, trying to tweak it rather than write it. This is why she could only offer shallow criticism of her friend's work.
One-Book Wanda is a play-it-safe writer. She is terrified of finishing her work, and even more terrified of succeeding. She is the most critical writer out there: of herself and others. Avoid her as much as possible. Never seek her advice, especially if you're new to writing!
Have you ever been discouraged by the criticism of One-Book Wanda? Have you ever been One-Book Wanda?
[Credits for the photos of bored-looking creatures: stockfreeimages.com.]
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