Criticism stings; it hurts. Sometimes it makes you want to curl up into a ball, block your ears and go lah, lah, lah, lah, lah. It can feel as rejecting as someone slamming a door in your face, even this poor, rickety, broken thing.

Yet criticism is one of the most valuable things you will ever receive as a writer; far more use to you than praise, which merely affirms, whereas criticism stretches, provokes and inspires. If somebody pays you the enormous compliment of investing time and thought into reading what you have written, don’t stick your fingers in your ears and walk away if they tell you they don’t like certain aspects of it. Think long and hard about what the problem might be and how you can fix it. I once had an editor say, I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong. How helpful is that? If she had come back and said the scenes are under-dramatised and the characters seem a little frozen, that would have given me plenty to work with.

Even if you want approval for your writing, it might not always be what is best for you, so if constructive and insightful criticism comes your way, seize it as a lifeline – the grit of a salty comment or two might just turn into a pearl one day.