Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am writing a paper for an advocacy group in Washington, D.C. as a part of my job as a research assistant for them. It is a research and opinion piece on a fairly hot current issue, and they are going to eventually publish it as their document.

This is very exciting, yes.

But turning in a draft that you slaved over and then having an hour-long phone conversation about all of the changes that need to be made is NOT exciting. Unless you think excessive armpit sweat, butterflies, and nausea are exciting.

It is so, so hard not to take this stuff personally. Especially when you have NEVER met the person making the changes and you are pretty sure the tone of her voice is expressing thinly veiled disappointment and/or the opinion that you are a terrible writer who may or may not be dumb as a box of rocks.

I shouldn't be surprised, really. I haven't had to undergo this level of scrutiny before. I've always been good at research and writing, so of course it is a blow to my pride and sense of self to be told, "Redo this, this, and this."

Deep breath. Editing is a part of writing. This is not about me. Learning to take criticism about what you hold dear is a good learning experience. Handling criticism professionally is going to take you far in this world. This is not about me.

Ugh. Excuse me while I finish trying not to cry, being angry at myself for wanting to cry, and then preparing for a big meeting for my other research job this afternoon. Hopefully my bangin' professional outfit will keep me together through this one.


  1. This is *exactly* how I felt after getting back my first reader reports for an article I wrote. Even though it was a revise and resubmit and therefore technically good news, the reports were just so blunt and kind of mean that they just crushed me. But after a good cry, I felt better about the whole thing. And now I'm almost done with the revisions! Good luck with yours --

  2. You've got to wonder how these people got to be so blunt about their comments. They must review thousands of pages in a year, so I can only imagine. Except it is so much more important to you than "just another paper." I get it. :) Don't beat yourself up too much.

  3. Oh my dear! I know that feeling!

    Sometimes I think being grown up and 'professional' is entirely about figuring out how not to cry when it feels like people are picking you apart. And then I wonder what I've lost in becoming quite so hard...