As you can see, the vacation posts have gone missing. 🙂 I still intend to do them, though perhaps they will trickle in at a one a week rate until they fizzle into nothingness because no one is reading them. 🙂
Indeed, getting my buns back to posting regularly has been difficult. I think it's because I learned something whilst traipsing across volcanic landscapes and through tropical rainforests: I can live without the Internet. Not only that, I can get more done if I limit myself. And getting stuff done is something I need to do. I have requested revisions waiting. I have a thesis to finish. I have new ideas waiting for their turn. Must get busy.
Anyway, still catching up on my favorite blogs. Several good things out there today. Diana Peterfreund is talking about critiques in this post.
But more importantly, what I'm really looking for in a critque is not just to fix the bad stuff, but to make the good stuff better. I've been thinking a lot about that old critiquing maxim, “Don't just say everything's good.” I used to think that meant pointing out the bad stuff, even if it may hurt the artist's sensitive feelings about her baby. Now I'm thinking it means that you shouldn't just let good rest on its laurels. You should point it out when there's good stuff that can be great.
It's true that critiquing styles and needs change the longer you've been writing. This is one of the problems I have with my Wednesday night group. They are into a different, line by line style of critiquing that just doesn't work for me any longer. Part of the reason for this is that they only want to read 5 pages at a time. What begins to happen is that people bring the same 5 pages over and over, or only bring the first 25 pages in groups of 5 before tapering off to nothing or starting something else entirely.
And, sort of a segue if you consider the ensuing conversation about first drafts, Lee Goldberg gets into a discussion about bad ideas perpetrated by novice writers (specifically, putting first draft work onto the web and sending out email to folks you don't know asking them to read it, though the writer claims it's not first draft and has been edited). The controversy rages in the comments trail where Lee is alternately praised, insulted, and slammed for his post.
This also brings up, for me, the question of being a writer. If you write, you're a writer. But does that mean you share equal footing with those who have more credits than you? What makes a writer? Credits? Or just a belief that if you write and others read it, you're the same as the Lee Goldbergs of the world? Sometimes, I grumble to myself about not being a real writer. It's because I have a healthy respect for the process and I don't believe that my words, as written the first time, are sacrosanct. My credits are tiny right now. I'd never dare use them to insist on equal footing with, say, Tess Gerritsen. Imagine the silliness of that!
I AM a writer, and I am dedicated to getting better at what I do. And I don't believe published = godlike. We all make mistakes, that's for sure, and not everything that's published deserves to be. But when someone with a lot of experience tells you something's a bad idea, maybe you ought to listen to the message, even if you don't like the way it's delivered. Just my opinion.
And now, for some serious fun, go read Paperback Writer's post about the SOILs. ROFLMAO! I love the way she skewers RWA here. Sometimes, you gotta wonder about these ladies who judge contests. I've been a victim, so it's not a new question for me. In the PAN ranks, I don't know what it's about. In the PRO and unpublished ranks, it really is sometimes the green-eyed monster. Other times it's just inexperience. I cringe to think of some of the comments I've given in the past. They weren't meant to be hurtful or mean, but I'm afraid they may have come off that way. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20.