I wanted to join a critique group, so I joined a critique group in March. We meet every other week. It’s a good sized group with seven regular attenders in the general fiction group, and six of us in the sci-fi group.
I thought, this is it, if I can prove my writing out here i’ll be good to go.
I’ve quickly learned that the group has valuable input and points out areas that need work. But, I don’t think I’ll ever satisfy all of them, and that is ok. They are not in the middle of the bell curve when it comes to readers. They are extreme readers. They’re writers. They know the rules, they have style preferences, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. I get great constructive criticism. But, I need to make sure to change essential “how” I write errors and make sure I don’t change the “why” I write, and to some degree, the “what” I write. I have to make sure I don’t become a politician-writer, where I’m just swayed by the opinions of others and have no real identity I can call my own.
It is a difficult balance that I have not yet learned.
But, I am getting back to writing, keeping their constructive criticism’s and guidance in mind, but not writing to please them.
What’s been your experience with critique groups?
I finished this morning. I’m excited. I’m exhausted. My face itches.
Now to leave it alone for a few weeks before fixing all the continuity errors and other editing stuffs. My book, not my face.
I hope to have it ready for my short list of beta readers sometime in May (ha). Everything seems to take longer than I planned. It will be three years this May since I started thinking about this book. The book is unrecognizable from the first drafts of 2012. But, I guess that is common.
Thanks to all here that have encouraged me over the past two + years since I started blogging. A special shout out to Barbara Varanka, my first editor. She did a great job in ignoring all the massive problems and seeing the seed of something that has grown into this book. I thought I was ready to publish 18 months ago. HA!
The road is long before me, and I have miles to go before I query. But query I shall, when the time is right.
Sigh. I thought I’d be excited and “rarin ta go” at this point in the book. I thought there would be music and dancing and prancersizing. I thought I’d be like “phew glad that slog is over with”. Or even VICTORY SWEET VICTORY!
But, I suppose all of youse out there that have already finished a book or two or eight know, it feels sad, like you’re about to say goodbye to an old friend, tell a lover it’s you not them, put your budgie to sleep, or flip your mattress. Painful. And I still don’t know how to tuck in the corners the right way.
Maybe I should spend a weekend writing the first part of the next book. What say you experienced veterans out there in WP land?
It continues to be a great journey. And I have lots of editing to do, after a break of course. At this point, I’m happy with the story. The writing not so much. But, that will get better, we hope.
“I’m tired, but it’s a good tired.” From my favorite Far Side cartoon. That’s how I feel. It’s a good tired.
4:30 is whiskey and water time. That’s an important, wait, essential part of my day. Especially since my boys got me a bottle of Bushmill’s 16-year. One shot a day. The other thing that is essential is writing. I’ve been on vacation since the 19th of December and have worked on my book for 16 of those 17 days. I completed the second section of the book, and got in a bit over 2k words today to finish the vacation with 30k words.
I feel good, but i’ll feel better at 4:30.
…for a little while. I’m on vacation, hoohah! I started vacation back on the 19th, last Friday. I don’t go back until Jan 5. That gives me 16 full days free to write. Double hoohah! There’s really 17 days in that stretch, but I’ll take Christmas day off.
Right now the routine is:
- Wake up at 5am and eat oatmeal, mostly, or Cheerios
- Read through my facebook newsfeed
- Read the chapters from my One-Year Bible. Almost done!
- Startup Spotify and pick a playlist
- Play Diablo 3 for an hour. Save the world from evil. It’s not been working well I see.
- Get glorious coffee. Write until lunch.
- Eat, and visit with my wife. (She usually doesn’t get up til my lunch time).
- Do some work around the house, or go to the gym.
- Finish off the writing for the day.
- Do some more around the house, and visit with the wife
- Around 4:30 get my shot of Tulamore D.E.W. and water
- Watch the news
- Read from my current book
- Go to bed around 9pm.
A little over 1600 words a day average so far this vacation.
I’m posting this as a reminder to myself that sometimes writing flows and works. So, me, read this when you are in a dry spell, writing is super hard, and you’re getting nowhere. Read this and encourage yourself.
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” ~ James Michener
I hope I can be a good rewriter. I need that.
Yep, it has been. I’ve been off since last Saturday and have one more day. This week I’ve kept a 1,000+ word a day pace and will finish up a good first draft of the first act of the book. And I’ve kept a family life together by writing in the mornings whilst the rest are sleeping. Me and the Mrs. got to see Brandi Carlile last night with the Seattle Symphony. Wow, when she comes through your town, make it a point to go see her. I’ve you don’t know of Brandi, check out this video of her singing one of her most popular songs.
Excellent Thanksgiving, too!
Oh, and I
wasted time had fun playing Diablo 3. 🙂
I started off my writing journey as a full on pantser, just writing as the words and images coursed from my brain to the page. I wrote out of sequence. I wrote adverbally. Every day was an adventure. The story emerged on the page. I discovered who the characters were, what they were like, what they were doing, and where they were going.
Then I got stuck.
Why. Yep that was the question. Why were the characters doing things. Why were they motivated. Why were they in this setting.
Then I learned to write back story and plot. I chafe at structure. I want to be free. My job is structured, why can’t writing just flow without structure? Well, maybe it does for some, it doesn’t for me, at least not yet.
So, I’ve become more of a Plotter/Planner. I have my editorial map, which is a great tool for me. I’m 12 of 24 scenes into the first act. I’m off all week, so we’ll see how I progress on this next 12 scenes.
Two years. I started this blog two years ago as an accountability partner for myself. To keep myself writing. To track my progress, ups, and downs.
- The act of writing itself
- Encouragement from other WordPress bloggers
- Meeting other writers at the PNWA annual conference
- Working with my first editor
- Working with my author coach
- Finishing a draft of the full book
- Getting positive feedback from agents at a conference
- Getting feedback from family, friends and the writing group
- Learning at conferences and seminars
- Learning from reading so many great novels and writer books
- Revising (Until I learned to enjoy it)
- Writing back story (Until I figured out a method)
- Crap, this is taking a long time
- Man I’m a crappy writer
- I’ll never finish this thing
- I’m so tired of this story
- Killing off my first character
- Switching main characters
- Learning how much I don’t know
- Not being done
It’s been a great journey. I’m 11k words into this current draft. We’ll see if this is the one.
Thanks for riding along with me.
I’m quickly coming up on two years work on this book. Seems like a long time, but it is my first, and I’ve learned a bunch. I’ve learned better by doing than if I’d started in classes. Sure I’ve taken classes and read books along the way, but they didn’t make sense to me until I was facing problems with my own work.
So, why is it a new beginning? Because I wrote a new beginning to my novel. I’ve heard from more than one critique partner/reader that they didn’t feel much empathy, if any, toward my main character when she worked through the opening scene. That’s not good. So, I backed up in the story, just a bit, just enough to give the reader a sense of the main character, their relationships, and the things important to them. Seems like it worked.
Oh, and all these months I’ve been working with an author coach; a couple month long sessions. I’ve also been writing back story, history, character profiles, etc. All that work was like drudgery to me, but has led up to now when I can actually focus back on writing the story. I’m 10k words in on this draft and the story feels stronger, more three dimensional.
Here’s hoping that this draft will be worth the time to edit and finish. Well, I will finish it, regardless. Just to be done and move on to a second book.