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Posts Tagged ‘critique group’

I love to drive.

My infatuation with the automobile came at an early age, even before obtaining my learner’s permit at fifteen. I remember being glued to the TV during car chase scenes, drawn to the adrenaline pumping speed and narrow miss cornering.

At this point some might think, ‘She’s just an adrenaline junky.’ I can assure you, that is not the case. Most true thrill seekers love the uncontrollable aspect of their risk-taking, the possibility of the chute not opening, the bungy chord breaking.

The unpredictable scares the crap out of me, if anything I’m a borderline control freak. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.) But perhaps that’s what I like about driving. Sure the variables are still there, equipment could malfunction, some other idiot might lose control, veer into your lane, crash into you, but if your tire does blow out, depending on your skill level, you might be able to survive, steer to the shoulder, avoid wipe out.  In contrast, if you chute fails to open, you’re basically screwed, game over, roll the credits.

So what does this have to do with writing?

When we first start down the author’s path, we’re watching the chase scenes someone else is stunt doubling. Thinking, “Wow, that would be cool. If they can do it so can I.” So we type up that rough draft, knowing we’re the bomb.

We know how to drive, who needs to study a manual? We take the learners permit test; epic fail. We submit our rough draft, fresh out of the gate, because we  don’t need to revise; first rejection letter.

This time we study the manual, put in hours behind the wheel, maybe even take a driver’s education course. We pass, highways and byways here we come. We revise, edit, join a critique group, take a writing class, go to seminars, then re-submit……..

 

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Ever had a bad week? If you’re the artistic type, I’m sure it’s happened. The down day, week, month can take on various forms. From lack of inspiration, sometimes called writer’s block, to self-doubt or even, heaven forbid, not handling criticism well.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to separate from my work, meaning that I often take criticism personally. This is especially true if I think I’ve been particularly brilliant only to find that something was lost in translation. After all, I knew what I meant!

Ah well, back to the rewrite, aiming to toughen up my prose as well as my skin.

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With trepidation, I joined my first critique group a few months back.

I remember that first submission; uploading it for email to the group, finger wavering over the send button, stomach in knots. Somehow I managed to send it, immediately wishing I could take it back, knowing with a certainty it was lacking, a mass of uninspired drivel.

Too late, they had it, it was theirs to dismantle.

I woodenly went through the motions of critiquing the rest of the groups’ submissions, fear an ever-present shadow in the back of my mind. Far too soon, it was time for the meeting.

I didn’t sleep the night before.

I sat at the table, feeling as if I waited before the headman’s axe, lump in my throat, hoping for a pardon.

It was not what I expected. Oh it wasn’t completely painless, far from it. I discovered however, that it was not just about my own writing and insecurities, but about the journey we all must undertake on this grand adventure to publication. A group endeavoring to grow together, helping each other while each growing in the process.

Join a critique group. Do it now.

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