What writers can learn from Food Network TV chefs
Do you watch any food competition shows? You know, the ones were chefs compete against each other to make the best dish? There are a few I occasionally watch: Guy’s Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, and Iron Chef.
All of the chefs on the shows have been around for a while, they have already learned their craft and have perfected their style. Many of them work at highly rated restaurants and have all kinds of awards and honors to attest to their culinary skills.
They cook their hearts out and then their dish is presented to a panel of experts. Since it's a competition, not everyone is a winner. Obviously. The losers are disappointed. Obviously.
When time's up, the completed dishes are presented to the panel of judges.
The first comments from the judges are always complimentary. They like the presentation, the aroma, the tenderness of the meat, the flavor profile, etc. But then the get to the nitty gritty and lay it out:
The dish was too spicy.
There wasn't enough seasoning.
The [fill in the blank] was supposed to be the star of the plate, but it didn’t shine.
The sauce was too heavy for the delicate flavor of the fish.
The pork chop was dry.
The wine wasn’t rendered out of the sauce.
The garlic was too strong, it worked against the flavors.
A bit more viscosity was needed in the stew.
The steak was a little bit overdone.
There are several negative comments made to describe the culinary masterpieces that you've just seen carefully constructed.
And do you know how the chefs respond to the criticisms? Do you know what they say to the judges?
Usually the nod, and then they always say, "Thank you."
They don't make excuses. They don't denigrate the judges. They don't try to explain the dish.
The chefs act like professionals, and they accept that every palate is different and they can't please everyone.
Writers should keep that in mind when criticism comes their way—and you know that will happen.
I've heard the comment that no matter how delicious a peach is, there's always someone who doesn't like peaches.
So, the next time someone says something critical about your writing or when an agent or an editor rejects your work, remember that we're all different, and we each have different tastes. And also remember that a rejection of your book is not a personal rejection of your character. (I know it hurts, but rise above the personal discomfort.)
If you need some encouragement about how to put rejection into perspective, check out this blog post.