Saturday, June 16, 2007

Check Yourself

This is a bit of a rant, and unfortunately, it's pretty much aimed at a couple of writers I have conversed with. I'm human. I see things that irk the heck out of me, and most times I just ignore it, complain to my friends, and move on. But sometimes, something has got to be said. Okay. *Deep breath* Here I go.

I think there is nothing better than having a crit partner who understands you -- who gets your work and is unconditionally supportive of whatever you do. That's great... but, let's take a moment to examine whether or not it's truly helpful to you in the end. So, stop and ask yourself -- does this person ever find any fault in my writing? Does this person ever point out things that _I_ feel deep down need work? And here's the kicker -- LOOK around. Is _anyone_ else listening and agreeing with the two of you?? (Parentals DO NOT count.) If you answered NO to all of these questions, you seriously need to check yourself and evaluate whether or not your writing is perfect -- or if (and I'm just saying this as a what if) you're so-so writers that have convinced yourselves that you're geniuses. And...again, just saying...by insulating yourselves from the world, you've allowed yourselves to become a tad deluded.

I'm probably a serious anomaly when it comes to writers. I share _everything_. If someone emails me out of the blue, and I'm positive they're not some psycho copyright thief (and in some cases even when I know they are LOL), I'm more than willing to let them read my work. I figure, hey... I can learn _something_ from everyone who crits my wips -- the more people that read, the more useful feedback I get.

Admittedly, I'm starting to realize that this may have some serious drawbacks, and I can already see I've shared BTPM _much_ less than FI. But let me tell you, when I really wanted to take FI to the next level, I picked two of the harshest critters I could find (let me tell ya, neither of them hold any punches) and asked them to read my book. OMG... PAINFUL. (And you know who you are! :)) But you know what? It had to be done...it just did. And I learned a lot even though my first inclination was to scream to the heavens that they were wrong. LOL. All in all, tho... I took so much away from the experience that even my bruised ego is nothing in comparison to what I gained.

So, my question...no, perhaps it's a challenge... is to break out of the little box you've built around yourself and be willing to hear the harsh, honest truth. Even if you don't agree with what people have to say, the reality check is something you NEED and SHOULD get from time to time. I'm not saying to show the first 500 words, or even the first 50K words, before you're ready. What I'm saying is that before you conclude that your book is the next best thing to sliced bread that you go out and find _someone_ who will dish you up a nice hearty serving of humble pie.

If you're saying to yourself that this couldn't be you and that your crit partner loves your work... but it's only because you're GOOD... yeah, YOU need to check yourself. I mean YOU.

6 comments:

Maggie said...

If your crit partner isn't capable of dishing out the God's honest truth, be it blunt or sugar coated (I prefer blunt), then he/she isn't doing their job. Publishing is a brutal business and it's better you get the truth from someone who means to help you when something in your WIP is less than sterling than to paper your walls with rejection letters before you figure out that you may need to adjust some things. Wanted: Critique Partner, familiar with genres of romance and romantic suspense; must be grammar nazi; must be willing to kick ass when necessary.

Jen said...

Maggie,

LOL. Exactly! I mean, I have people who never have a negative word to say -- they're great, but I can't rely on them to be 100%honest. Goodness, I mean my family loves my writing -- but are they telling me the truth when they say there aren't any problems? Uh, NO. (Of course, my sister is BRUTAL.)

Therefore, I surround myself with MANY writers and betareaders...anyone who can lend _something_ to making the work better. Granted, it's never perfect -- and too many differing opinions can be stressful (to the max), but you gotta hear it. (g)

Having the same person pumping up your ego constantly, and insulating yourself from the world at large...yeah, not a good combination. (g)

Jen

Carol said...

Um Maggie,
Even if your writing is perfect, prepare a wall for rejections. They're inevitable.

Cindy said...

Dear Jen:

I know this about me, I'm guilty! Guilty!

I have SUCH a hard time saying things if I think they might hurt someone's feelings. I'm learning to do it anyway, and that comes from a few experiences where I read someone's work and, in hindsight, realize I wasn't really all that much help at all except maybe as a cheering section. And we all have friends and parents for that, don't we?

The other part is about having the confidence in my own abilities, my own knowledge, to even be in a position to criticize. I'm getting there, it's taking me years to learn to stand up and say what I think. Even now, (in my thirties!) I hesitate. It's easier when you've got to know people better, and have some idea how they'll react.

Jen said...

Carol,

OMG...ain't that the truth? Not that anything I've ever written is perfect, but man...what a process. I could probably line at least a bathroom. LOL.

Jen

Jen said...

Cindy,

Oh I hear you. :) I think everyone is guilty of this to some extent -- I know I was super nervous when I first started critting. I mean, what do you say when you think someone's writing stinks?

This is actually a great topic for another post... the guilt of the critter. (g)

These days, I'm pretty dang upfront. Unfortunately, some people DO NOT want to hear the harsh truth... and well, brrrrrrrrr!!!! Cold shoulder. LOL. I'm trying to learn how to soften the blows now. (g) Otherwise, the Jen will stand alone, uncritted.

Thanks for jumping in!

Jen