What Am I Doing With My Writing???

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, I joined an on-line writers critique group called Scribophile.  The way it works is that you earn “karma” points by critiquing other’s work which you can then “spend” on posting your own work to be critiqued.  I submitted my first piece a few weeks ago.  I chose “I’m Going to Write a Book“.

First off, I was amazed at the range of feedback from my first four critiques.  All the way from “I can see it being used by Jay Leno…it reads like a stand-up act” to “the pace was a little slow for me…for something focused on humor, it didn’t make me laugh enough.” Jerk.

Second, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer (did I just call myself a writer?):

– I stink at grammar (like I needed to tell you this).  I throw around commas, like, giving, out, candy, on, Halloween.  I don’t even know how to use a semi-colon other than for a winking smiley face and I try not to do that too often because I don’t want people to think I’m strange or flirting with them. 😉

– Male college students are not my audience.  Apparently they need story pace to be on par with a 4G network to keep their attention.  See jerk above.

– I’m critical.  Okay, I already knew that.  It didn’t take joining Scribophile to teach me that, just to remind me of the fact.  I guess in a critique, you’re not supposed to say, “you call this garbage a novel?” Well, maybe if they gave me some instructions the “novelist” wouldn’t be in tears right now, sending me death threats. Okay, so there were some instructions, but heck, I thought, how hard can it be to critique?  Apparently harder than I thought because now I’ve gotta go and apologize or risk losing my karma.

– I can’t write humor when I’m in a bad, sour, cranky mood.  Because everything comes across sounding bad, sour, and cranky and like I have a chip on my shoulder the size of Attila the Hun on our last flight home from China.

– I don’t know what I’m doing.  Since I’ve earned karma, I have nothing to share.  I imagine all the other writers in the group racing through their critiques so they can share chapter after chapter of their beloved novel.  I’m submitting old blog posts.  I started out, eight months ago, writing a novel but I lost interest in it, 10,000 words in, because I thought it stunk (did I mention I’m critical?).  So, I shifted my focus to my blog since we were going to China.

Almost daily, my opinion of my writing swings on a pendulum, from thinking I could write a best-selling book to thinking I’m like one of those really bad singers on American Idol that someone in their past, probably their mom, told them they had a great singing voice and then when they sing their heart out in front of Simon (or whoever) he brings them back to the reality that any gift or talent they thought they had was a complete sham.

I’m participating in a writer’s conference this week with Cheryl Moeller.  I’ve never taken any kind of class on writing since English 101 in college, so I’m bound to learn something.  I’ve read a number of books on writing, not to mention scores of blogs.  I think my writing has improved.  (My sister told me so.)  I did notice that anything I wrote before 2011 is crap.  So don’t read anything on this blog before that.  I mean it!  Unless you’re adopting and want to know about Xi’an or Zhengzhou and promise to ignore my writing sulkiness.

Anybody want to join me at the conference?  It’s free.  She accepts a donation for their marriage ministry in lieu of payment.


  1. says

    It’s like you took all of my fears regarding writing and wrote them here. Do you know about NaNoWriMo in November? I noticed you had a 10k word story started and the requirements for NaNoWriMo are to write a 10k word novel in one month. I tried it last year and lasted about a week before the toddler, job, blog, and husband made it virtually impossible to continue. I don’t know if I’m asking for an early heart attack to try again this year, but it’s always worth a shot.

  2. Khallsweet says

    Mindy, your words are helpful and encouraging. I don’t know why I forget that we all have different senses of humor. Thanks!

  3. Khallsweet says

    I’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, but didn’t know exactly what it was, until now. Yeah, I have enough trouble keeping up with my blog and trying to “market” it and learning how to write with the three kids around. The novel is so far on the back burner right now. Ha ha! But it’s sitting there for someday when my kids are grown and I have time.

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  5. Bryan Jones says

    At the end of September I retire from my full-time job in the National Health Service. I intend to spend much more time on my writing from that point on. Like you, I’m writing a book (a critique of western psychiatry) – I’ve completed a couple of chapters (12,000 words) but have to complete the other eight by the end of January 2014 – no pressure there then!

    I’m learning all the time and read a lot of books/magazines about how to improve my writing. My best piece of advice (for what it’s worth) is to stay true to yourself and retain your distinctive voice. I, for one, find your writing style and sense of humor entertaining so never lose the essence of who you are.

    Best wishes

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