Sunday, May 26, 2013

From BlogStalker to Blogger (Maybe)

Okay, I am officially starting a blog. Exciting right? Well, maybe. Who knows, this might be my first and last post. Only time will tell. The truth is, I am a total BlogStalker. I have stalked numerous blogs for years, making a comment here and there, but mostly just a stalker. I decided it was about time I stop all the creepy stalking and join in on the wonderful world of blogging.

Why, you probably aren’t asking? And to that I answer, really who wants to be a creepy stalker? It isn’t something to brag about. So that’s my million dollar answer. Plus, now I can vent, cheer, cry, celebrate, brag, and whine to possibly absolutely no one, creepy stalkers, or if I am lucky, some of the wonderful bloggers I’ve met through writing.

With that said, I’m writing my first post on critiquing. Not necessarily CPs, but just getting and/or giving crits in general. I’m doing this because I’ve read a lot of praising and griping recently about it. I am going to admit, right here and now, that I do not have any CPs. I know, most of you will say this is insane and stupid, but the truth is I can’t find the time to be a really good CP back. For me, if I can’t give back 100% then I don’t think I deserve a good CP. I want this to change. I really do. And I hope it will when all of my kids FINALLY start school this August. (Holy crap, six hours…. alone…. uninterrupted…no fighting? I have no clue how this will go!) But for now I enter workshops, crit contests, and I have found lots of great crits available in auctions for a good cause. Hey, getting a crit AND helping a good cause is a win-win.

So there are options out there for those of us that aren’t ready for the wonderful world of CPs. And there are options that don’t include spending a fortune on editing services. Mind you, not all editing services are the same. Through my blog stalking, I have found (although not necessarily tried yet) some great people that will critique and/or edit your work for an extremely reasonable price.

Anyway, my point is about critiquing. I figured out pretty quickly that if you want an honest critique you should ask for it. In the beginning, I got a few that pointed out grammar mistakes etc, but only praised my story or told me what they liked about it. And I get it. Who wants to tell an author something didn’t work in their story, that you didn’t get it, or that is just sucked? But sometimes I personally need to hear that.

My first book sucked. It sucked after the first draft. It sucked after the revisions. And it still sucked when I completely rewrote it. If I posted some of the crits I got though you would never know it. They said they were intrigued, or loved the idea, etc. When the truth was they probably barely choked their way through it.

Now I don’t fault anyone for offering kind words.  The critiquers didn’t know me and probably don’t like to offend strangers, so I get it. So one day I tried something crazy. I won a critique and when the critiquer emailed me, I told this person to be honest. Be brutal even. The good thing is that they will never hear my tirade, or my excuse for everything they didn’t like. I can sit in my office, type up my angry response, and then delete it once I feel better.

No one likes to hear anything negative about their work. But how can you get better if you aren’t willing to take the good with the bad? Yes there is a right and wrong way to address “problems” in a book. Obviously saying someone’s work is horrible or made you want to rip your eyeballs out and grind them in the disposal isn’t the right way. But we should all be grateful for honest opinions.

So the next time you enter your query or sample into a contest and don’t get in, or into a workshop and you don’t like the feedback, or get a critique in general you disagree with, rather than write an angry response (seriously in a public forum this just makes you look unprofessional and ridiculous), put it aside for a few days. Then when you have a clear head read it again. Maybe then you will understand why the critiquer didn’t like your MC, or thought the pacing was slow, or said you used a certain word way too many times, you will see it, correct it, and make your work better for it. 

So if anyone is reading this, tell me your thoughts? Do you have CPs? If not how do you get critiques? Do you like brutal honesty? Thoughts about contests? How do you handle a tough crit?
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