"I'm Not Mean, You're Just A Sissy"*

Personal Note(s): Remember when I said Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You" was a terrible message? Yeah, well, Pink has come out with one, too. SERIOUSLY? "Please Don't Leave Me"? That doesn't even sound like a Pink song.

I have a monthly book allowance, no joke. My husband has learned the best way to keep me from spending a ton of money on books in random spurts is to give me a $25 free pass that I get to use when I go do the monthly grocery shopping. It's kind of the same logic as not sending a starving woman out to pick up milk and eggs so she doesn't come back from Winn Dixie with a Hershey's chocolate creme pie and three kinds of chips. This time around I lucked out even more as I got to combine my $25 with a Mother's Day gift card from Book-A-Million. Got five books and a really cool package of The Wizard of Oz magnetic bookmarks. I like Glinda best; she knows her glitter. Also, Also, I'm having a tuna melt for lunch, and I will enjoy it like WHOA.

So, let me preface by saying that I've had at least two blog post subjects in my head for a week or so and no time to let them out, and on top of that Nathanael talked me into trying half a Sudafed tablet to kill off yet another cold. NOT. A. GOOD. IDEA. One could safely call him a necrophiliac because he loves me, and I am currently the Walking Dead. Someone cue The Cranberries' "Zombie". My brain staying on-topic isn't going well.

And with that, TO THE POST! Which is basically an expansion on something I said a post or two ago about criticism, also known as 'feedback' if you want to put a smiley-face on it, which you should, because despite how much hearing something icky about your baby hurts, it also helps. Like the little old witch says in Neverending Story: It has to hurt if it's to heal.

The truth is you love your characters and your story and your 'everything about it' too much to be truly objective which is why you need other people to do it for you . . . and HADES! I just remembered where I was really going with this so let's back up a second.

A while back I had a conversation with a non-writer friend about another mutual writer friend and Friend A's (the non-writer) confusion over just what's expected of her as a test reader for Friend B (the writer). Obviously, being a writer as well, and one who has at least a bit of experience and education on Friend B when it comes to the subject, I was in a good place to help Friend A figure out her role when Friend B brought her a new project and then sat there at her knee, waiting with baited breath for Friend A to finish reading and TELL HER ALL ABOUT IT. Of course, the problem really didn't lie in Friend A being clueless or afraid of discouraging Friend B, but rather in Friend B's reactions to feedback, AKA 'the poison we must all develop a natural resistance to so we can get the hades on with business'. If Friend A said she liked the work Friend B wanted to know why and if Friend A pointed out a plot hole or other discrepancy Friend B went off in a fury trying to explain what Friend A should have gotten without a problem. As you can see, Friend A is basically screwed. Rock, allow me to introduce you to A Hard Place, and please, disregard that smudgy place between you there; that's just Friend A.

Anyone will tell you when I first got this idea in my brain to write a book and finally let someone see it that I was totally defensive about the whole thing. My good (also-writerly) friend Michelle (go click the Belletrinsic link left of here and say hello) can TESTIFY about how badly I reacted to her first tentative, very polite suggestion that maybe my 'voice' in early drafts of Silver were a little too formal, too precise for a young adult/teen novel. To be brief, I threw a hissy fit. Oh, how far I have evolved since that low of low points! Brothers and sisters! I say unto you revere and court those among you who will lend you an honest word or two about your manuscript, because buddy, you need it. It's been a year since Michelle risked her life to point out a serious weakness in the book and I 'went off like a devil in a church' about it.

Getting back with our 'poison' illustration, think of it like an immunization: You know it's going to sting like hell, and you know it'll even keep aching for a day or so after, but if it keeps you from going out into the big bad world where the real Big Boys and Girls play with nothing to stop them from infecting you (i.e. tearing your work to shreds and outright rejection) you've got to man up, remember to relax that muscle in your arm so it hurts less, and let the medicine do its job.

And after all that, you'll be strong enough.

I have a Happy Bunny pin with this on my purse. You can find things like it here: http://happybunny.orbitearthstores.com/ttp/Mean-sissy-Happy-Bunny-Basic-Tee/products_id/57.html


DeadWizard said...

Ahhh man, I hate being in Friend A's position.... I've practically given up on bothering with critiques, but it's sooo haaard to sit there and be all "omg that was awesome!" about something that wasn't awesome... Even if it has potential. Then again, I'm just a cynic. And oh man, do I want to go to sleep.... I think I just joined you in the legions of the undead...
PLUS, it's now a pain the neck to try and get a decent critique from anyone, because they're all afraid you'll bit their head off!!

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