It's very important to have a friend, a friend who can read your stuff when you're ready. It's even better to have a good working relationship with an editor. And it's really good if you are willing to listen to that editor. It doesn't mean you have to do everything anyone says. It just helps to have someone challenge your fictional reality, make you defend your work, make you think about it and assess it with fresh eyes. It's sometimes hard to be open to input from outsiders, but if you find yourself explaining why you did something to a new reader, then what you know about the story didn't make it onto the page. It isn't that they don't get it. A reader can't get what you didn't write down. Writer's shouldn't fear input, they should welcome it. Be grateful for the readers who help you be a better writer. If all you can handle is praise, well, you're in the wrong business. Too bad we can only do it in our books.
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