Monday, December 26, 2011

5 Pages of Criticism

Earlier this year I happened to stumble across a writing blog, Go Teen Writers. And while I explored this new blog, I noticed a writing competition that had just started. Every two weeks or so a new writing prompt would be posted, and the competitors had to write 100 words after that phrase.

It interested me, and I joined in a few times, though not consistently. I wasn't disciplined enough for that. But I did well enough, and even placed a couple of times. But for the most part, I never really though about the contest. It was just another way to practice my writing.

In the meantime I kept writing for myself too. Mainly I worked on my novels, though I attempted short stories too. Normally I don't show my writing to anyone, but I decided to show one of my stories to Mum.

I was filled with pride in my work when I handed my laptop to Mum. Mum read through my writing, then gently told me that it was good, but not a short story. She suggested several ways I could change it and make it better, more what I wanted.

I was crushed, and put on my best 'I'm upset but pretending not to be' face, mumbled something about thinking about it, and promptly decided not to even attempt short story writing again.

But I did, and with much better success than before, thanks to Mum's suggestions which I finally made myself use.

A few days ago an email dropped into my inbox from the Go Teen Writer's blogger, Stephanie Morril informing me that I had won a 5 page critique due to my having joined in with the competitions and having placed.

I told Mum and Charlotte at once. Charlotte screwed up her nose when she heard what my prize was.
"Who wants five pages of criticism?" she asked in scorn.

I attempted to explain what a critique was, but she still maintained that she wouldn't like 5 pages of criticism.

Mum considered this, then asked, "How do you think you'll be able to take this criticism? You didn't like it when I made suggestions."

I have no idea how I'll feel about the suggestions made on my writing. Will I get all uptight and defensive again? Or will I listen to the suggestions and act upon them? I sincerely hope I'll manage the latter, but, knowing me, I'll probably do the former!


  1. Oh yay! Critiques!!!! *dies* :P I hate them but they are soooo necessarily to living. I've heard it is FABULOUS!!!!! to have books edited and all of that stuff but idk...Recently I had a friend BEG me to share my story with them and it's rough draft only - I don't edit until I am done for the most I sent her the first 4 chapters unedited, rough draft, because I don't have the time to through and edit it right now. To my great chagrin editor mind that she is she went and marked up the whole 30 pages - which is a LOT OF WORK I KNOW!!!!! but it was SUPER hard to take when she had asked me to share and all I had asked for was her opinion not her editing... It's painful and right now I have a novel that people are asking me to try and publish and it needs help - help that I am blind to help that I need to ask someone to help me with and I am looking at it thinking - this is going to be worse than pulling off band-aids!

    You have my deepest sympathy and joy in your gift of a critique...helpfully done they are wonderful! I've had a few that way...a few short minutes but on ground I am not sure's terrifying.

    God bless you and your journey and if you want a shoulder to cry on when you get it back let me know...I know I am half a world a way but - I can hear your pain from over here...


  2. Jessica, I'm with you. I'm half dreading, half excited about this critique. My problem is I want to send this lady a really good five pages, but I haven't got five really good pages. Plus I'm so scared she'll think my writing's no good. Not that that'll stop me.

    I have an opposite problem when I send things to friends. They refuse to give me a proper opinion or make any sort of suggestions, even when I ask them point blank. It so annoys me when they just say, that's really great writing, because that doesn't help me at all.

    If you ever want an opinion on your writing, just drop me an email or comment. I'd love to help you!