Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just Get Over It

I belong to a critique group. I love my critique group because I can
Courtesy of Amdro
take in the pages of my current Work In Progress and they will tell me what they think about them. At least I hope they tell me what they think about them. I want them too. See, I want my WIP to be good and when it comes time to edit, I look at their suggestions so I can make it better. That's what critiques are for - suggestions to make the work better. I love praise too. Who doesn't? But praise isn't making my writing better.

Not all suggestions are going to fit with where I want to take the story so I'll have to disregard them. Some suggestions are just ridiculous - change the character's height or don't write a mystery, write a romantic comedy - whatever. Most of the time, the critiques
Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici
are spot on. And although I've had critiques that cut really deep, I've considered all of them before implementing or discarding them. One of the BEST critiques I got was from Kyle Martin who flat out told me that my story sucked because I didn't know my characters very well. That was hard to hear, but he was absolutely correct. And thanks to him, I got to know my characters and rewrote my story. It's better. And with editing, it will get better yet. Eventually, it will be good - and good enough to publish. *fingers crossed*

Fortunately, just about everyone in our critique group wants honest opinions and suggestions. There is one member, however, who doesn't like suggestions or criticisms. And that's fine if you don't like them, disregard them. Who cares? But this member doesn't just disregard them, first he writes a scathing email to the individual member or to the group as a whole complaining how he feels victimized, disenfranchised, and insulted. He is actually a good writer with a creative vision, specifically in screen play writing. What I don't understand, is if he is going to disregard the suggestions that get made and be offended by them, then why does he even attend? My guess is for the praise. But, praise doesn't make you better.

Ironically, Kristen Lamb just wrote a blog about this very thing
Kristen Lamb
called Handling Criticism. It reinforces the fact that as writers we need to develop thick skins. If our critique group is going to upset our tender sensibilities and make us cry like little girls, then a professional editor is going to destroy our very soul. Oh! I know, I'll just upload my novel without having it edited or having beta readers. That way I won't have my feelings hurt. Really? Because the public isn't going to be shy about reviewing your work for the whole world to see and telling them just what kind of drivel and tripe you wrote. Great for sales!

It sounds like I have a thin skin about receiving accusatory emails or having my suggestions ignored. On the contrary, I don't care. The thing that bothers me is that in my response to this man I curbed what I really wanted to say to him and that causes me stress. I don't like to sensor my opinions. It bothers me because he is a good writer and he will never go further than just wanting to be a writer if he can't handle editorial suggestions. Oh well.

Time to get back to work. I'm editing today. I hope my skin is thick enough to handle all the bad things I'm going to say about my writing! I'll just have to get over it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh, That's Better!

Some 25 years ago I was in a car accident. I was rear ended. It
Image by David Castillo Dominici
didn't seem to be too bad at first but a few weeks after the incident I was hurting. Six weeks later, while driving the car to the  repair shop, I was T-boned by someone running a red light. That's when the pain got worse. Yes, there are more details to the story, but this is just a preface. It turns out that as a result of the car accidents I had a cracked C5 and severe whiplash. Time moves along and the crack heals, becomes arthritic, spreads to the C6 and results in compression on the disc between the C7 and T1. Yeah, it's uncomfortable.

So, I'm sitting in the chiropractor's office the other day waiting anxiously for the doctor to come in so I can be adjusted and have
Image by farconville
some of the daily discomfort relieved. In other words, I'm waiting to be cracked. That's when I start thinking about alignment and Dem Bones song about how the toe bone is connected to the head bone circuitously, of course. The song made me laugh out loud and that's when the doctor comes into the room and sees me laughing by myself. Oh well.

The point is that just like our spines, our lives have to be aligned. In order for there to be function and painlessness, things have to be in their correct place (see, I'm right to nag about putting stuff back where it goes). If my vertebra aren't stacked correctly, I have pain and discomfort and it is difficult to do the things I have to do let alone the things I want to do. Once I was adjusted and my peripheral vision returned, I started noticing alignment and order patterns everywhere. Yes, it is because I'm a geek. Lasagna has to be stacked properly or it's a gooey mess. The dishwasher has to be loaded the right way or the dishes won't get clean. I could go on but then I'd just be indulging my OCD.

Where it's really important is in writing. I have a wonderful reference book, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell that has been
helpful in aligning my plot line and my sub-plot lines. If the story isn't aligned, it won't flow. If it doesn't flow, it won't read easily and that means it won't be read. During my editing process, I'm looking at ways to adjust, realign, structure my story line to be more clear and concise. The first word is connected to the second word, the second word is connected to the third word, the third word is connected to the .... Crack!