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Eye on the Prize: Skin Like an Elephant

How Critiques Affect the Stories of Professional Writers

Sarah McCoy

I confess that I am a story pleaser. It’s an odd paradox, given that I’m not particularly a people pleaser. My parents advocated individuality and independence, so growing up, I carried a confident perspective that if a certain group of popular people didn’t take to me, obviously they weren’t my brand of popular. And that’s okay! Human favor is a fickle wind, not something to set one’s compass by. The point is never the opinion—it’s what you do with that opinion.

Flash forward a few decades to when I walked into my MFA creative writing program. This was the big league, or at least it was to me. I didn’t get my undergraduate degree in ...

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