Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is Ignorance Bliss?

Goal Accomplished: Completed Chapter 1 for the Presents contest.

I've sent the entry out for critique and will wait for feedback before writing the synopsis. It's often my external plot that has problems so I'll probably need to fix some issues. Well actually, my first drafts have a lot more problems than that but that's the one I find the most difficult to fix. Fixing mechanical problems like grammar or word choice is easy.

I enjoyed writing the chapter over the past three days and part of me wants to just let it go at that. Once by CP's start tearing it apart I'll see all the flaws in my baby. It'll turn into hard work to fix it. Of course, if I'd taken all the comments on An Unsuitable Mistress to heart, I would never have finished it let alone sent it or received a request for a full. All this is to say that I have a love/hate relationship with critiques. I find them difficult to hear but realize without them I'm never going to get better or improve my work.

A friend of mine just posted a harsh comment she received in a contest. Nothing constructive about the comment - it was just mean. So, this writer has lovingly slaved over her characters, her plot, her setting and someone she doesn't know has ripped it apart. How constructive is that? How does that help someone do better?

I'm a very straightforward person and I tell people what I think but what if your comments end up stifling the writer? Making her not want to write or finish her project? How useful is that?

Maybe the right approach is to write it the way you want to, with blissful abandonment before exposing it to the critical eye of others?

Would we ever have learned to walk if every time we fell down, our parents critiqued our technique? Picked apart how we held our legs, moved our feet, held on to the furniture? We'd still be crawling.

Of course, when we're trying to walk, we get immediate feedback. We fall down. We have to pick ourselves up and try again. Success is easy to measure. How then, do we get the kind of feedback we need to guide us to success if we don't have our work critiqued? And if we only want to be critiqued by those who love our work, does that help us learn to write?

By the time I finished the last rewrite of An Unsuitable Mistress, I felt a little like I was writing by committee and just refused to have anyone else read it before I sent it back to the editor. You get to the point where you have to trust yourself.

Aah. I think I've reached the point of this long ramble.

You have to trust yourself.


Cat Schield said...

I agree with the whole critique thing. Some people work great with critique groups, others not so much. I never had a good experience with them. I didn't find the comments helped me. And most of the time, there's one needy person in the group that seems to suck up all the time.

I'm not going to have anyone look at my entry. I'm not sure it will help at this point, anyway.

I'm struggling the synopsis so I wish you all the best with yours.

Anne MacFarlane said...

I have some good critique partners - both online and in person. It took me a while to find them and work out what worked for me.

I think you have to have enough confidence to walk your own path, though.

Kelly Boyce said...

I'm embracing the blissful abandon. And at least the harsh comment gave me something to blog about this week! See...lemons...lemonade...