Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thick-skinned required? Maybe . . . maybe not. By Lynn H. Blackburn

I’m a wimp.

A cream puff.

A marshmallow. 

I’m so not cut out to be a writer.  

I’m anaphylactically allergic to criticism. And this doesn’t apply only to my writing life. This is just who I am. I have the type of personality that always wants to be right. Not in the “I’m right and you’re wrong” way but in the “I’ll die of humiliation if I answer the question wrong so I’m not going to raise my hand, even though I know the answer” way. 

The upside to being paranoid about making mistakes is that it has made me into a very conscientious person. If you ask me to do something, I’ll do it. And then I’ll go over it 100 times to be sure it’s right. And then I’ll call you a few days later to see if it met your expectations. 

Again. I shouldn’t be writing.  

Because all writing requires some form of criticism. 

And criticism + Lynn = hyperventilation. 

Three published books in and I’m still a hot mess. Each time I send a few chapters, or an entire draft to someone, it nearly kills me. 

OK. I’ll admit that I’m a teensy bit prone to exaggeration. But the heart palpitations, sweaty palms, upset stomach. Aren’t those symptoms of dreadful things — like heart attacks? :) 

So what’s a writer to do? When all the traditional advice says she must develop a thick skin if she’s going to survive but when the transformation from thin to thick-skinned would require a personality transplant?  

I tend to assume that thick-skinned people send off their work and don’t worry about it. They don’t spend time refreshing their Facebook or Twitter feeds in case someone has commented on something they posted and their hands don’t shake when they open an email that will tell them whether their work has been accepted for publication. They certainly don’t lose sleep over what some anonymous person said about their book in a review. 

Maybe that’s true. 

But maybe when it comes to our writing life we need to redefine “thick-skinned.” 

What if the thick-skinned person isn’t necessarily someone who stands tall and lets the waves of criticism roll by without a second thought?

What if the thick-skinned person is the one the waves of criticism throw to the ocean floor and keep them submerged so long they begin to wonder if they’ll ever surface?

But when they’re finally able to catch their breath, they don’t run for the shore. 

They stand up. 

And let the waves do it all over again.

Beneath the Surface

Dive Team Investigations, Book #1

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she’d left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer–one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released in June 2017 and her new Dive Team Investigations series kicks off in March of 2018 with Beneath the Surface. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  1. "I’m anaphylactically allergic to criticism." Yes, I can relate to the whole post, Lynn. I don't hyperventilate, but want to crawl into a hole, curl up, and hybernate until my fifteen minutes of infamous is all gone.

  2. We are kindred spirits. :) I'm learning to see failure or mistakes as a growing process. I try to remember I'm not the only one who makes mistakes and I remind myself to offer grace when others make mistakes. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes! It definitely helps me remember to be kind and gracious when other mess up!

  3. Hi, Lynn. I think being an English teacher prepared me for the criticism that comes with writing/publishing. I've been teaching English Comp 1 & 2 for 24 years, and I conference with my students before they turn in a final draft. So when I started letting others critique my manuscript, I was very accustomed to the critique process (from the other side of the table). In fact, if a critiquer doesn't say enough bad things, I tend to wonder if they approached the critique seriously and with enough effort. (LOL I'm so warped.) Now, criticize my efforts on anythign but writing, and I'm a marshmallow, too. Like you, I want to do things 100% right, and I'll do whatever it takes to get it right. Then I need affirmation that it is right. :)

    1. LOL! I will agree that if they don't find ANYTHING then I do wonder! LOL! And yes to the need the affirmation! God knew that writing would be a very sanctifying experience for me!!

  4. Great post and I can’t wait to read your book! Blessings!

  5. Lynn, I love the concept of getting back up and moving forward. That takes true determination n the face of hard writing times.

    1. I think "grit" is one of the most important aspects of the writing life - it makes such a huge difference!

  6. Awwww Lynn, I love this!! I'm with you 100%. A hearty AMEN. Yes Sister. I get it. I live it. Hugs to you!

  7. Lynn, thank you for being my guest on Seriously Write. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and I'm looking forward to reading Beneath the Surface.


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