Growing Through, Growing Strong
Amanda L. Davis is the award-winning teen author of the Cantral Chronicles, a dystopian trilogy. She enjoys reading and writing and comes up with new novel ideas while spinning yarn or running on the roads near her home. She was born and raised a Florida girl and loves the warmth of the South.
“The point of view is wrong, I don’t know whose it is, and the setting is too vague. You might want to rewrite this.”
I still remember how nervous I was when I brought the first chapter of Precisely Terminated to my dad to read and review. He’s a published author, in fact, he’s Bryan Davis, the bestselling author of the Dragons in our Midst series, so I had plenty of reasons to be nervous about him reading my work!
Though the negative assessment was discouraging, it drove me to try again, to rewrite the chapter. If I hadn’t gotten the criticism, I’m sure I would never have edited the chapter as much as it needed to be edited, and Precisely Terminated may never have been completed.
When I started writing in 2006, I was always afraid to show my writing to anyone. I was fifteen at the time, and my writing wasn’t even as good as a twelve year old’s. Because of the quality, or lack thereof, I always kept my writing to myself.
My writing was so bad because I have dyslexia. It’s a learning disability that makes it difficult to learn how to read and write. I didn’t begin to learn to read until I was nine, didn’t read fluently by myself until eleven, and I went through first grade three times. I doubt anyone would have guessed I would have ever become a writer!
Even as I tried to learn how to write over the years, I advanced very slowly, despite all my dad’s writing lessons that I’ve listened to at least a thousand times. I believe that the reason I wasn’t advancing was because I didn’t show my work or take any critiques from anybody.
Precisely Terminated was one of the first works I ever showed to people who would give me good, yet tough critiques, and once that happened, my writing skills took off, and I’ve never looked back.
It’s difficult to hear anything bad about my work. Every time someone gives me the slightest hint that they had an issue with my writing, whether technical or not, I have to remind myself that that person is trying to help me improve. People giving critiques usually aren’t trying to be discouraging. They’re not being mean. They want to help, but it’s still hard to hear.
I just have to remember that critiques and other people’s opinions help me see my writing from another angle, they help me see technical flaws that I might not spot. A second pair of eyes is always helpful, even if it hurts.
Now when I take my writing to show my dad, he still has critiques and changes to make—though hopefully not as many as when I first started—and while I’m still nervous, I can say ‘thank you’ when I get his comments, because I know what a difference they will make in the finished product.