Dispiriting critiques – throw a writing dog a bone, would ya?

A bad critique can be dispiriting.

I started out really happy with what I found when I went back to look at my draft of Biomalware.  I know it needs a lot of work.  I’m sure it’s going to change over time, but I think I’ve got the bones of a really good story.  Maybe it’s too early to be submitting it to a competition but the deadline is next week and I don’t want to wait a year.

I’m submitting the first fifty pages and a summary to the James Jones Fellowship contest.  The award is to “honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture.”   I think my novel falls into that.

There may be even more competition this year because I saw it in Writer’s Digest, so I’m sure a whole lot of other people did too.  Now, I may not have a chance in hell but I’m submitting whatever I’ve got at the end of the month because if I don’t submit, there’s absolutely NO chance I’ll win, place or at least receive an honorable mention.   (I say at least but it sounds pretty damn good to me.)

So, I did a quick edit and sent it out to my writer’s group and a friend, hoping for feedback to help me clean it up and focus it.  I received a couple quick responses that made some suggestions but were generally favorable.

Then, last night, one of the group ripped into it.

For the love of God, if you’re critiquing someone’s work, find one or two things that you liked about it.  Don’t just hammer them with everything you see wrong!  It’s guaranteed to put the writer on the defensive and it’s just not nice.

Now, he gave me some good notes and some that I totally disagree with.  It’s my book so I get to decide what to take and what to leave.

But there’s a weight when someone rips apart your story that way.  It drags you down.  You waste energy and time fighting out from under it.

Now I have to somehow overcome this malaise.  Right now I just want a nap and a piece of cake.  I’m not going to have either though.  I’m going to get through my work day, do what I need to at home (which will probably take most of the evening) and eke out some time to work on my book.

Maybe some good music will help.

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3 Comments

  1. neenslewy said,

    February 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I used to work in theatre and this is what we used to hold onto after a bad review-
    Just remember this… have you ever seen a statue of a critic?

    Believe in your writing, you must, if it is rejected or not successful, it may not be due to any weakness on your part. Sometimes the shape of the peg just doesn’t fit the hole.

    Keep writing!

    PS Music always helps x

    • melorajohnson said,

      February 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks! As a librarian, I believe whole heartedly that not every book is for every reader. I know we will find our audience if we write with honesty.


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