Monday, February 27, 2012

In Which I Get What I Ask For

So a few weeks ago, I totally won a full MS critique in the Write Dreams Auction. Which was awesome and I really really wanted it.

So I sent her my Break Free MS, which I am still plugging away it, revising and line editing and loving and revising and... well you get the idea.

I really needed a full MS critique to spot BIG ISSUE things. You know, plot holes, character arcs and development. I'm usually pretty good at spotting big issue things in other people's work, but there's no way in hell I can spot it in my own. The blinders are totally up once I finish that first draft.

So she got back to me after two weeks (super fast, right?) and her critique was EXACTLY what I wanted and needed. Some of the things I worried about, she loved and had no problem with. And some things I didn't even know had problems were problematic. Perfect. I was so happy she was able to spot things I couldn't.

So what happened?

I sank into a pit of despair.



This is figuratively me. Not literally, obviously. I don't wear denim baseball hats

Sometimes that happens to me, when I get a good/helpful critique. Even though I'm excited about it, I'm still disappointed that I have to make changes and am, you know, not perfect. Which obviously I'm not, but sometimes you have to trick yourself to feel extra good about your writing so you don't lose momentum. Or at least I do. Maybe that's just me.

It's just irritating. Because had I got a not helpful critique back, one that said something like "this is great! I loved it! Good job!" and that's it, I would've been flattered, but mostly irritated because I need constructive criticism, not just feel good happy times. Right? Right.

Anyway, I knew my bad mood would pass once I was able to fully absorb and accept the critique. And it did, about three days later. And now I'm back in the saddle, working even harder on the MS. Prepared to really make this one THE ONE. Yeah? Yeah.

What about you? Do critiques, even good, helpful, critiques, send you into the pit of despair?

(OT: OMG guys, I managed to write this whole post, without a single typo! It's some sort of miraculous record for me!)



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you feel good about it again. Critiques don't do that to me. I dive right in and start making changes. And if the critique is from Rusty, I'm laughing while editing!

Hart Johnson said...

Man, I totally know that funk. In fact I think I usually blog from the midst of it. Very cool, though, to have a really helpful critique, and good luck with the fixes! (unlike Alex, I prefer to let them sink in for a few days so I can 'make mine' with how I go about changes)

Maria Zannini said...

3 days is a pretty good turnaround. I tell most people I crit to wait two weeks before they read it again.

It stings less after you've had a chance to absorb the info.

Crits don't bother me, not when they come from trusted CPs. We are brutally honest with each other, but also supportive. We don't say anything without backing it up--and offering a glass of wine. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I won a full crit from an agent once (in an auction). The feedback was amazing. She spotted all kinds of problems my CP and beta readers missed.

Kyra Lennon said...

I felt every word of that! But, as long as the critique is coming from someone who really knows their stuff, I am always happier with making corrections than getting a pat on the back for work that is not as good as it should be. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh man, I know exactly how you feel. Even when I get stuff back from my amazing critters and I know they're going to spot my flaws, I still sink for a few days. I need to absorb the fact I'm not the greatest romance writer on the planet. lol But it only takes a couple of days and then I'm back at it.

I'm glad you're so happy with it. I can't wait to see it out in the real world.

Hannah Kincade said...

I had a really long answer and then blogger ate it.

I have to read the entire piece before giving any sort of helpful opinion. (I think.)

To sum up, when I'm giving critiques, I have a hard time drawing a line in between how I want the story and what the writer intended to write. Sometimes they're one and the same, sometimes they're not, and sometimes it's like pulling teeth from the writer to find out what story they intended to know, if you ask them.

Sarah Pearson said...

So, this sounds perfectly normal to me. I'm glad you've had a chance to take it all in. And of course this will be the one :-)

Cassie Mae said...

I don't think I'll get through my comment without a typo, so wahoo!!!

And I love a good critique, but it does take a good few days for me to be all excited about all the changes they suggested. But a good critique stays with you when you go over your ms again. The suggestions will start making sense, and you'll be like, "Oh, it would be better done this way." Instead of being stubborn or sad about it, you'll be excited to get the creative juices flowing again :)

Ah, revisions. They are my favorite part :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Yay for no typos! And no denim baseball caps!

I think it's normal to feel this way. It's frustrating to have to rewrite a manuscript (especially after you've already rewritten it several times, as is almost always the case for me). But usually, the relief to have a strong critique is greater than the frustration, and it doesn't take long to pull out of the funk. Especially if you really believe in your story and truly want it to be the best it can be (and not just good enough). Writing/publishing is nothing but a series of ups and down--I'm convinced. Probably more downs than ups, I'd say. It's my hope the ups are so overwhelmingly awesome they compensate for the rest. When the downs get so overwhelming you can't pull out of despair...well, that's probably time to take a break or take up painting or legos or something.

But keep at it as you are. It's clear to me you're ready to tackle this bad boy.

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

I save each version as a new file and I never look back. If I ever miss my prologue that was making the opening drag, I can read it. But I refuse to let anything I love get int the way of writing the best possible story I can. --Because I want other people to like it as much as I do, and to do that, I have to let other people give their input.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

For me...whether a critique is good or not depends on the timing. When I solicit for a critique is when I'm completely open and bare...ready to change anything. I'm ready to attack my manuscript with knives, cut it up, change it up...all in the hopes that it will get better.

What I don't like are unsolicited critiques after this period. Example: My book is published and printed/bound and someone writes me a critique of what I need to change. That kind of stuff just upsets me.

So how I react or how I approach them depends on the time in which they arrive.

TL Conway said...

Good thing you don't wear denim baseball hats. No worries though, I would've staged an intervention on your behalf if you did. It would've included pie to make the news easier to absorb. :)

I'm glad the crits gave you what you needed, though I'm sorry to hear it knocked you out for a few days. I imagine most people feel like that. But you know it will make your story even better, so I'm glad you're back in the swing of things. Good luck!

Ninja Girl said...

Hey Falen,
I totally get what you're saying. This happens to me almost every time; I ask someone for constructive criticism but usually instead of making me be like, "Oh yeah, you're totally right!" I'm like, "Oh." Frowns, feels the tears well up. Don't know if you did it on purpose but loved the Princess Bride references to "the pit of despair" :) That's exactly what it feels like sometimes. But if you can dig your way out, the results are often better than you started out, right? Wishing you lots of luck on those revisions!
Ninja Girl

Adrianne Russell said...

Good for you getting out of that hole as quickly as you did! Sometimes criticism is rough even when it's constructive and you've asked for it but it definitely makes us better in the end.

Kaye Manro said...

Crits are good for us. In the early days of my writing it would sting a bit. But now I have trusted cps and it's all good. I can take it and then work on it. I'm not attached to my words at all. In fact, I'm sure I'm my worst critic!

L.G.Smith said...

It does always take a day or two to be able to step back from a critique (or even a helpful personal rejection) to really appreciate it. The fact that we're not perfect is always such shocking news! Shocking!! :P

When I critique, I know the person is going to feel this same way when they read my remarks, so I always try and give an explanation or at least describe my thinking process to them on why their words are all scratched out with red pen. :)

Clara said...

Oh hoho, totally know the feeling! And I've seen walk of the earth's version of 'Somebody that I used to know', it's effing amazing!! : )

DL Hammons said...

You've had typo's before?? Shows how observant I am. As far as critiques go, as long as they don't end with YOU SUCK...I'm good! :)

Lola Sharp said...

I don't mind any of the 'this needs fixing' stuff...I mean, that's why I'm asking for fresh eyes from trusted readers. Usually, almost always, I know where the problem is, just not sure how to fix it and all the ripples. I actually want the brutally honest. That's the only way I can make it better and learn. But, I like to hear what is working too. As long as my betas/CPs can point our what they like along with what isn't working, I'm grateful. Grateful and pumped to get working on it and no hurt feelings at all.

Congrats on getting a great crit! I think it's exciting. :)


Kristin Rae said...

I am SO with you! I need to step away for a few days from helpful critiques until I'm convinced they are correct (which they usually always are). Make this MS THE ONE!! :)

Jamie Gibbs said...

Whoo! Glad you got back on form, Sarah :)

Also, heh heh, plot hole :)

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

ditto what you said- that's how i feel.

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