February 26, 2015

My First Writing Critique in...Lots of Years



This week I submitted my first piece of writing for critique in a very, very long time. Very, very long.

I remember submitting pieces for critique in my college creative writing class, but I also remember it feeling more like a typical assignment...I was in the habit of submitting work for evaluation then because I was in school. I did it all of the time. And I seem to recall still having a glimmer of the cockiness of youth on my side, which can make things like this a little easier, initially, at least. (Though it's possible that that particular class knocked the last of that cockiness right on out of me. Bastards.)

Then I remember a little writing group in my early twenties where I shared a few small pieces. But there was less critique and more encouragement there. It was a very safe space...but not necessarily a very productive one.

Now I am in my first real writing critique group. There are a few very inexperienced writers, but none of them are submitting work for critique quite yet.  The rest of the writers, the ones who will be critiquing my work, have been published or have self-published or are in the process of self-publishing. They are writers who have been doing it longer than me. This means that five or six of these writers will read a 4000 word selection from one of my first draft NaNoWriMo books and critique it.

No one else has read these books.

No one.

So I'm pretty terrified to learn that they are giant piles of crap (at least from anyone's perspective other than my own six year old daughter).

I am worried that they're crappy. But I'm also worried that having adults who do not regularly read children's chapter books critique writing meant for 6-10 year olds will not be a success (three of these writers are men over 50...and I think all of them write mysteries).

But I'm hoping for the best. I'm hoping for some positive feedback and encouragement. And I'm hoping for some helpful suggestions and guidance on how to make these books better.

Still, I'm scared. I'm not really known for dealing well with criticism.

And right now, I tend to waffle between feeling really good about what I've written and feeling very shy about it. I know we're not talking about seminal pieces of literature here. (Not yet, anyway. I'm just (re)starting out.) But it would be nice if they didn't totally suck.

The thing is, I know the pieces need revision. I know they need work. And I've been stuck.

Actually, saying that I've been stuck is a massive understatement. I have been struggling to edit and struggling to write for weeks now. I just keep staring at the printouts of the rough drafts of the books I've written, and at the computer screen with the first pages of the new ones I'm starting.

But.

Nothing.

I can't figure out how to get my writing mojo back. So I just keep staring and avoiding.

Which is super helpful. Very productive.

So, here's hoping that the feedback from this critique group will get my synapses firing again and help me move forward.

And that it won't be too painful.

I'll find out on March 10th.

Fingers crossed, everybody.

Fingers crossed.

Until next time, send me good vibes, friends. Thanks.




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