But not everybody is going to like my work. There will be people who don't identify with the main character, or find the plots confusing, or simply don't enjoy my writing style. And then there are the people who will tell me, in all honesty, what parts of my story aren't working.
At WIFYR this year, agent Mary Kole from Andrea Brown had this to say:
"It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time."
This statement really rang true for me, because I think it's a very important one for every writer to remember. If people praise your work and tell you how awesome it is, you probably aren't going to get any better as a writer (although there's the hot-fudge sundae analogy to consider). Criticism, on the other hand, can be really difficult to hear, but in the end it (hopefully) will help you improve your craft and perfect your manuscript. A year ago I needed praise more than anything else. I wanted affirmation, a reason to keep working toward the seemingly unattainable goal of publication. But over the past few months I've begun to thirst after criticism. If/when my first book gets published, I want it to be something I'm proud of. I want to show it off to everyone, knowing it's the best it can possibly be.
And more than anything I want to improve as a writer. Criticism doesn't make me feel awesome or talented, but in the end it's going to help my story, and five years from now I'm sure I'll be eternally grateful that none of my first drafts ever got published.
In the choice between looking good and getting better, I will always choose the latter.