I’m not Hemingway.
Or Tolstoy, or Steinbeck. Or even Clancy, Koontz, or King.
No shock there. But it’s nice if once an a while someone gasps and says, “Really? I’m sure you’re right up there with the best.” This is a good thing coming from your non-writer friends. Or your mom. Maybe your spouse, too.
Your dog’s opinion doesn’t count—he drinks from the toilet.
Encouragement, confidence, and sheer blind belief in you are great gifts for your word-smithing mental health. Most of us writers suffer from a common GI disorder (Gaping Insecurity), and we need those little pieces of kindness to keep us from wallowing in despair.
However, we just as desperately need hard truth, tough criticism, and the nasty red pencil of objectivity. This is what you find in the best of critique partners.
Somebody somewhere has to have permission to push you harder, to make you sweat and bleed on the page, to compel you to unearth every crunchy verb buried inside you.
We need someone to slash our pet words (it’s really not okay to use “smile” 200 times in your manuscript). Someone has to sentence our favorite scene to exile for having no purpose in the plot. And someone has to confront our main character for being irrational, boring, or too stupid to live.
The key here is growth, another mile on the writing journey.
Good criticism walks you forward. Great criticism makes you fly.