Blogging 101, Day Twenty-One: Build on Your New-To-You Post

blogging101

What is the point in trying and learning new things if you just turn around and forget about them afterward? Hint: the correct answer is none. There is no point in doing such a silly, silly thing.

Today’s assignment is to publish a follow-up post inspired by your post from day nineteen. If applicable, publicize it on a social media.

If you’ll remember, for my day ninteen post I shared one of my favorite writer quotes. For today’s assignment I am going to explain my feelings behind why I believe it is a great quote. In case you’ve forgotten (or didn’t see it the first time), the quote was:

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” – George Orwell

The reason I love this particular quote is because of the raw truth of it and the image that he paints of the author struggling to create even though the process is terrible. This is exactly how I feel when I’m writing. Don’t get me wrong…I love writing, I truly do. But writing a book can be kind of like a woman going through a long, horrible labor; you’re certain that something wonderful is going to come from it, but you have to go through a lot of agony on the way. There are highs and lows, and sometimes it can be so painful that you convince yourself there is no way you can go on. Sometimes exhaustion takes over, and sometimes some unseen power drives you forward, and often you end up asking yourself why you ever allowed yourself to wind up in this position in the first place. And then, when it’s finally over and the book is “born”, you realize that this is only the beginning; now you have to “raise” the fruits of your labor through revisions, edits, beta-readings, more revisions and edits, publishing, marketing, and consumer feedback. Then, when all the horror begins to fade in your memory, you decide that you rather quite enjoyed being a parent/writer, and you wind up putting yourself through the whole thing all over again. It’s the kind of thing that only a crazy person would go through on purpose, but as a parent goes through hell and back for a child, so too does a writer sacrifice for their book, because in the end it’s all about the need to give birth, to create something wonderful.

That is how I feel about writing.

Critique Coping

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

20. How to cope with a substantial critique or edit

Reading critiques or edit suggestions must be the worst part of being a writer. I don’t care who you are, no one enjoys being told that there’s something wrong with the thing they’ve spent so much of their time and effort creating. Your initial reaction is always going to be one of defense: “This idiot doesn’t know what they’re talking about! I’m right and they’re wrong, end of discussion!” Even if you’re mature and composed enough to realize that the person giving you the critique has a very good point, part of you will still want to argue, to fight and say that there’s nothing wrong with the way you wrote it.

For myself, the way to deal with a critique is by taking a deep breath, reading it through a couple of times, and trying to see what the reader didn’t say. That is, I put a lot of effort into trying to decide whether the reader is being harsh because they really want to help, or if they’re just being intentionally cruel; whether their ideas have merit, or if they’re letting personal opinions get in the way of sense; whether they genuinely want to help you make the story better, or if they’re just shooting out some generic nonsense to mask the fact that they barely read the story.

The sad fact is that while you can’t have the knee-jerk defensive reaction to critiques, you also can’t accept them as gospel. One thing I learned while hanging out at Critique Circle is that, yes, some readers are knowledgeable people who truly want to help you make your story be the best that it can be, while other people are just going to force their opinions on you under the guise of giving you “advice”. That’s why it’s a good idea to have multiple proof-readers. For example, there is a scene near the beginning of the action in “Nowhere to Hide” in which the main character strips off her pajama top and wraps it around her fist so that she doesn’t hurt herself while breaking a window. When I posted this scene for critique, one reader told me that the whole scene was pointless and “smacked of fetish”. I was hurt and confused when I read that because I didn’t feel that way at all, and I thought the scene made a lot of sense given the situation. I was just beginning to wonder if maybe I was being a little sensitive when half a dozen other critiques came in and almost all of them mentioned how much they loved that particular scene. If I hadn’t gotten those other critiques I may have changed the scene based on one person’s opinion, which would have been foolish.

So in conclusion, take critiques seriously, but not always to heart.