Sometimes, you’re forcing yourself to write. Sometimes, you’re forcing yourself to revise. Sometimes, other people are interrupting the process. But sometimes, interruptions are inspirations.
I’ve been slogging through writing for a while. A TOUGH period. Lots of words on the page, and not much else. I’ve finally sent a big chunk (okay, most of Book 1) to one of my beta readers for feedback. That means either slogging into Book 2, or taking a short break while I wait for feedback.
Waiting is Hell, btw. In case you had any doubts, I don’t think any of us do it well. And nagging is…unseemly.
Luckily for me, my critique partner has reached the point where she’s ready to send me something to review. It is sooo fun to read something new from a friend/colleague. A new story, a new genre, a new world…And I get to reassure her that it is fabulous, and help massage out some rough spots, and ask questions, and generally revel in getting to know new characters.
AND, at the same time, I’ve gotten my entries as a judge in one of my writer group chapters. More new stories by new authors looking for feedback and validation and reassurance and maybe some guidance–and hoping for luck.
I LOVE doing critiques and judging. It uses different skills, and yet helps with my own writing. As I ask “Oh, why have you waited until so late to let us know X?”, I start wondering if I should drop hints earlier in my book about a certain subplot. When I notice an area that lacks description, it helps me realize which areas I tend to skim over in my prose. When I find myself commenting, “She uses this phrase A LOT…”, it makes me accept that, yeah…that cute catch-phrase I love is probably turning up too often in my own pages, and I need to find alternatives because, yeah, the reader REALLY DOES notice.
I also like the idea of providing positive feedback. I know how hard it is to put your writing out there–especially in draft form. Being able to say, “Yes, this is good…keep going.” gives you a warm feeling. Sure, you run into the occasional contest entry that is less-than-perfect, but it’s nice to know you can help by pointing them in the right direction–whether it’s towards a writers group, an editor, or a subject matter expert.
Reading new stories that no one else has seen yet gives me a thrill. It’s fun, exciting, and revs me back up for my own writing. It’s an aspect of writing I hadn’t considered when I first started down this career path, but one I truly enjoy.
“And nagging is…unseemly.” Especially when you want to start nagging five seconds after you’ve hit “Send.” 🙂
If I haven’t said it before…and even if I have it doesn’t matter because you can *never* say it enough…I very much appreciate the massaging and the ideas and the questions and the reassurance of fabulosity. 🙂 And I look forward to returning the favor! Because you are so right–reading helps us grow as writers, and you are definitely paying it forward by judging contest entries. Great post, Rowan!
This is a great post — so interesting to see what goes on in the mind of an author, a mentor, a contest judge!