Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Didn't Feel the Love

Now before any of you think I’m talking about R when it comes to the above title, I’m not. Yes, today is Valentine’s Day, but the event I’m talking about happened yesterday at my critique group. All I can say is when I signed up for this writing thing 3 ½ years ago, I guess I didn’t think it would also include getting beat up in the process. Oh, did I just hear some chattering going on from some of my fellow writers. Did I touch a nerve? Has this happened to you, too? Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Most of you who have read my blog know I wrote 50,000 words in the month of November. After writing it, I’m told I’m supposed to take it in its raw form, read through it once, read it again, begin to revise it, and make it into a novel everyone is dying to read. My problem: The 50,000 words sat there like a very large elephant, printed out right before my eyes and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to break it down into smaller chunks.

Then it hit me, I decided the best way to make “the elephant” into bite size pieces was to take a couple of chapters and turn them into a short story. I diligently worked on those nuggets and transformed them into, what I thought was a viable story. But after yesterday, I’m not sure I’d trust myself to open up a can of soup – let alone make a judgment about anything dealing with the art of writing.

I’d like to ask my fellow writers – how does it make you feel when someone is critical of your writing? When you’re critiquing another’s work, do you ever take the other person’s feelings into consideration? Do you ever think that your direct approach and lack of encouragement could crush the author’s love of writing?

Before you accuse me of not being able to take constructive criticism, I can. The other times I’ve been critiqued, I’ve come home and went right to work on my piece and made it better with the suggestions given. I did not come home yesterday with the same spring in my step. Actually, I had a knot in my stomach and it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. The adage critique groups use - “we’re just trying to help the person improve their writing.” Trust me, what happened yesterday didn’t do anything to improve my writing. Yes, group, you made some very valid points that I will use to improve my novel, but remember in the midst of making YOUR point, a little encouragement and love would help along way.