Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Critiquing – an about face. Seriously?

If you’ve seen past posts on this, you’ll know I have always been wary of critiquing and critique partners. Jeez, who am I kidding? I was convinced I didn’t want it and didn’t need it – not because my work was perfect (yeah, right) – but because the very thought of it terrified me. And yeah, I’m used to relying on myself and getting things done on my own, and I figured I could complete my journey to publication without it. It might have been a teensy, tiny bit arrogant :). It’s not that I worried about the feedback, but I’d heard all the nightmare stories about critique experiences. Trying to write and get published is hard enough, without having to deal with THOSE hassles and it all sounded very time consuming. And sending my work to some unknown person (who may or may not be a ‘good’ writer or know what they’re talking about) just so that they could rip it to shreds? Or tell me it was ‘fine’ or ‘great’ when it really sucked? Who needs that? But there was always something niggling at me, back in the dark recesses of my mind – every published author I had heard talk on this subject and nearly every aspiring author I had read/listened to – ALL had critique partners. Huh. It’s not that I thought they were wrong (OK, it may have crossed my mind), but for awhile I still thought I could do without it. Until recently. I got the courage from somewhere to give it a try. Again, I wasn’t worried about the nature of the feedback. I was more worried about being steered in a wrong direction and wasting valuable time. I was worried I’d get feedback and I’d be like ‘I have no idea what this person is talking about’. I was worried an obligation would be established in a relationship I wouldn’t want to continue and I’d have no idea how to deal with that. None of that happened and through it I realized some things. I can’t see my work with fresh eyes or in a new light once I’ve worked on it for so long. Only a new reader can do that. I can’t necessarily see structural issues, grammatical problems or even wrongly used words because I’ve read through it so many times. I can’t see gaps or poor transitions or even some inconsistencies because I’m so familiar with my own work. I’ve come to realize that critiquing can provide a whole other rich layer to a written piece. Imagine that? The trick is finding someone who has a similar style or writes in a similar genre and perhaps has strengths that complements your weaknesses. Easier said than done I know. I’ve discovered you can get a sense of someone in a very short span of time and you just have to trust your instincts. Plus, you can ignore everything they say if you want and perhaps try someone else. This trial and error process seems to be a pretty standard approach.

So, yeah, I guess you could say I’ve had an about face on critiquing because my experiences have all been wonderful, positive, valuable, enlightening, and enriching. I think my work will be better for it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

OK, so I haven't done one of these posts in awhile and I had such an 'interesting' conversation with my 4 year old daughter last night, that I just had to share. This is the twin of the one in the last 'out of the mouths' post - the one where we learned just what Cinderella really says to the prince. Anyway, the conversation went like this:

"Mommy, how old are you?"
"I'm 41."
"That's old."
"Not really. You're only as old as you feel, baby."
"Your boobies are big."
Where do they get these words? "Ah, well, yeah, I guess they are."
"They look fat."
"They're not fat. Not exactly. Your ... boobies will get big too when you're older."
There was a pause. Her head tilted to the side. Her little brain was processing all of the information and I just knew it. A gem was coming.
"When I get old and fat, can I wear all of your clothes?"
Yep. There it was!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fear ... and the writer

I was thinking this week about why it was that I hadn't completed my revisions yet. I mean, yes they would require some rearranging of my ms, but they're not major by any means. I should have finished by now, even with all the other stuff that's going on in my real life. I know I've been paralyzed by fear - fear that it will be off the mark, fear that I'll make it worse, fear that she'll hate it, fear that she won't give me another chance, fear that it'll result in a rejection. For writers and aspiring writers, you all know what I mean, right? Everything we do is facing and overcoming some form of fear. Forget about actually sending something we've bled and sweated off to an unknown editor or agent, just putting our words down on a page can be tough. I know all that and accept rejection as part of this journey and still I've been hesitating. Why? WHY? This morning it struck me. I'm also facing the fear of success. Yeah, success. You'll probably think I'm crazy, but what if she likes it, what if they offer to publish it? It's what I want, it's what I've been working towards, it's what I've been focused on, but it's a scary prospect because expectations will be built that I will have to live up to, and in reality, exceed from here on out. Do I really have what it takes? Can I really do it - not just this one, but the one after that, and the next and the next? Now, I feel like I understand my real fear. And these fears? All of them? They aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so I better deal with it and get on with it, because I do want to be a published author - bad.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I got an award. A blog Award.

It still amazes me there are people out there who are even remotely interested in what I have to say on my blog. Some even come back more than once, which makes me think they didn't accidently hit some link somewhere. Seriously. Go figure! Anway, I got a Happy Cupcake Award for being a blogger that makes Kerrin Hearfield happy! Kerrin is also on the 'I will be published one day' track. Thanks so much Kerrin!

Now, I'm supposed to list 10 things that make me happy. Happy? Honestly, I don't really think of things in those terms. If anyone ever gets an opportunity to read my writing, you'll know that while love/committment always prevails, my writing is edgy and a bit dark, but I'll try. Here goes:

1. Revision requests. Yay! Of course, I just got my first, but they made me VERY happy. I could get used to it.
2. Characters. I'm always happiest when my characters are cooperating and telling me what they're going to do, rather than me having to figure it out!
3. Starbucks. I have to have my daily fix. This was one of the biggest issues for me at RWA nationals last year. No Starbucks, or not really Starbucks espresso anyway. If I ever move back to Australia and there's no Starbucks near by, well, we'll just have to relocate. For right now, I'm happy with one on every second block.
4. My kids. They're a lot of work, they're aggravating, challenging, 'tear my hair out' frustrating - oh wait, this is meant to be a happy list, right? All of that melts away the instant they tell me they love me - which is often and usually when they want to change my mind about something. They're the best thing that ever happened to me! All 4 of them!
5. My husband. He's a lot of work, he's aggravating, challenging, 'tear my hair out' frustrating - oh wait, is this a duplicate? Seriously, he's my best friend and I could tell you about some other skills he has, but I'd have to make this blog 'R' rated :).
6. My birthday. You might think this is odd. Every year I'm older yes, but my husband gets me the BEST presents for my birthday. They are always truly awesome and he spends a LOT of time on them.
7. Seeing my kids use good manners with other people without being prompted. I can't tell you how proud I feel when one of my kids are thoughtful or thankful to others all by themselves.
8. Last weekend my son picked up a book and - just started reading! I can't tell you how many books I've borrowed or bought to find the thing that he's interested in, so he would read more and WANT to read more. Who knew it would be a series about a clan of cats? He had free time. He could have played on the computer. He could have played the Wii or watched TV. No, he picked up a book, lay down on my bed and READ!
9. The stockmarket. I'm always happy when the stockmarket is too!
10. This hasn't happened to me yet, but I know when I get THE CALL (or open the email) and I have an offer of a contract for my writing, it's going to go so far beyond happy, I'm not sure what I'll call it.

So, who brightens my day? Below are some blogs (not already nominated I don't think) that I check in on frequently. They're not just entertaining, but often inspirational and thought provoking too:
Cari Quinn
Lynne Roberts
Shelley Munro
Hetal Patel
Helen Hardt
Wendi Zwaduk
Kaye Manro
Lyn Armstrong
Romy Sommer
Waiting for the Call

So, the rules are:

1. Copy the award image into a post
2. List 10 things that make you happy
3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day.
4. Link to their blogs.
5. Notify the award recipients.
6. Award recipients link back to sender’s blog