At one of the first local SCBWI conferences I attended, I submitted a manuscript to be reviewed by a New York Editor. I was so excited when my manuscript was one of ten selected to be reviewed and discussed in front of the entire audience.
Before the conference we received copies of the other manuscripts. I hate to admit it, but I was secretly glad when I saw that my story was better than the other nine submissions.
All the conference attendees crowded into the auditorium where the New York Editor would spend a full five minutes critiquing each story. She loved the first manuscript (which wasn't very good). The second manuscript (which was worse) she loved even more. She went on and on extolling its positive qualities and told the author to please send the entire story to her publishing company - she'd like to consider it for possible publication. It was hard to restrain my mounting excitement.
And then it was my turn. I picked up my pencil and got ready to take notes on all her compliments and any suggestions she might have.
The New York Editor made a sour face. "There really isn't anything I like about this one," she said. She shuffled my manuscript to the bottom of her pile and went on to the next story.
I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. I remember trying to keep a smile plastered on my face, and walking through the rest of the conference on auto-pilot.
The positive outcome from this experience? I didn't give up. I went on to write several successful published books. The story that she hated (and which I still like) I use as a very successful story writing prompt with kids when I visit schools. And when I became the person giving critiques at SCBWI conferences, I remember the sinking feeling I experienced, I remember that opinions differ, and I always treat each author I review with gentleness and respect...and find at least one nice thing to say about their story.