Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Writing is personal

So, this is a "no-duh" statement, but I have to say that many writers seem to forget this when getting critique for their CP's or when they enter contests. Remember that when you have humans reviewing your work, it is all very subjective. This means that there will be times when you have a piece of writing that reads well, but the person simply doesn't like it.

There are also times when there are flaws in the writing. These are objective and it really doesn't matter if the reader likes the material or genre, it is simply the writing. This may include too much telling and not enough showing. It may include huge issues with Point of View shift and what not. The deal is, there are some technical things that will take place that could prevent a story from moving any further along that critique process.

The key is to take what you have and move on. Learn from what you hear and realize that the review is because of the writing and not you personally.

Oh yea, as one final thought, the same would work for editors and agents. Ann Groell from Bantam Dell once commented during a session that she has to really love a story from the beginning to want to sign it. It has nothing to do with the quality, but she simply has to be behind the project from the beginning.

As she explained it, because of the volume of stories she receives (and these are agented submissions) she has to find something that hooks her from line 1. If it doesn't she just doesn't have the time to keep reading. Even then, it is not a sure thing. She has to love it enough because she knows she will have to read it 2-3 more times even before it gets to the editing stage.

Now, is this tough! Sure it is, but you know. That's the nature of the business.


  1. This is very true. When I was in a critique group years ago, I got a scathing review of one of my submissions. I don't think there was a sentence that didn't have some mark-up on it. I was devistated. I thought I was good! And here I had been fileted and had lemon juice poured on the wounds! It took me four months to go back and eventually look over the critisisms again, to see with a less-raw eye what the critique partner had said.

    And when I did, I realized that not only was she right on the money with every comment, but that I really needed to hear what she said. I emailed her immediately and let her know that I did appreciate the time she put into the critique.

    It was painful, but it was also a necessary part of learning that no matter how personal writing was to me, it was still just a story.

  2. Good to hear that you found growth in your writing from this!