Leave the Trash


This week, as I’ve been preparing to officially launch my website and my other projects that I’m going to be putting out this year (stay tuned—announcement still to come!), I’ve gotten a lot of great encouragement and feedback, but also some negativity from a source I once trusted.

Putting yourself out there is hard. From submitting your first manuscript to agents to releasing a book to marketing and every tiny step along the way, it’s hard. It’s hard to overcome the self-doubt and the insecurities in order to take the next step, and it’s even harder to take criticism, apply it, and try again.

Sometimes, that negative voice is helpful. The caring friend or critique partner who says, “Here’s what you need to work on and here are your weak points,” or the family member who says, “Your focus is out of balance,” and so on. Those sorts of things, while hard to hear, come from a place of love and a genuine desire to build you up and help you along.

But sometimes, that voice is just there to drag you down.

I’m a firm believer that you can learn from anyone, no matter how much smarter or more knowledgeable you may be than they are. If you are willing to listen and apply it, everyone has something they can teach you.

In every situation, whenever everyone says something, be it positive or negative, it’s a good idea (and one I try to apply, even if I don’t always succeed) to see if there is something to be learned.

That critic hated your work? Maybe they could’ve phrased it better, but what didn’t they like about it? Is there anything you can improve based on their opinion?

Your mom (or other family member) thinks you’re the best thing since Betty White, but she would’ve done this teensy thing differently? What is that teensy thing? Is there something to her opinion?

Even if the critic says something that is rude, offensive, and downright mean, there may still be some truth to it. And if so, can you take that truth and apply it while throwing out the rest?

I admit, that’s hard for me, especially given the criticisms I’ve gotten this week. But I’m learning to take the negative and realize it’s okay to ignore it. Even if it comes from someone whose opinion I once valued, if it doesn’t apply (and if you’re willing to learn, then you can probably decipher whether or not it applies), to brush it off and move on.

I work hard, and I’m willing to learn. No one likes hearing their work isn’t up to snuff in whatever way, and it can be hurtful, but I’m taking the valuable and leaving the trash behind.


About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

2 comments on “Leave the Trash

  1. I can sense the pain that came from experiencing that negativity from a trusted voice, Avily, so I’m especially proud of you for choosing this path. It isn’t easy, but I agree with you and seek to have the same response when it happens in my life.

    “Eat the grass and spit out the twigs” when it comes to receiving anything in life — feedback in a writers group, preaching from the pulpit, advice from “experts”. And sometimes the “grass” that is nourishing to you is “twigs” for somebody else. It’s an interesting process learning to discern what applies to us and when. Sometimes a piece of advice is totally wrong for me during one season, but exactly what I need ten years later. Heh.

    May God bless you and multiply the results of your efforts as you continue to walk in the wisdom He has given you.

  2. Not up to “snuff”? Consider whose snuffbox it is. We all have our own little idiot-syncracies, prejudices, tastes, likes, dislikes. No one’s snuff should be elevated to such a standard that there can be no other snuffbox, let alone snuff. True, it’s a hard thing to be teachable, it strikes at the very core of our sinful, selfish hearts at times. That being said, however, you are 100% right. “Judge all things, hold fast that which is good” is a principle by which I strive to live. The third part of that is just as apropos: “Shun the appearance of evil,” i.e., throw out the trash. Not everything everyone says, myself included, is always right. God bless and grow you, sister!

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