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.