I think I’d better cease all comparisons between writing and motherhood for the moment. If this blog was my kid, I’d have been tracked down by Child Protective Services for neglect. In the spirit of total honesty, I admit that I even forgot my password.
The online critique group has been an incredibly helpful experience. After I got over the initial shock of having intelligent women tell me exactly what they thought of my first two chapters. My internal monologue went something like this: “You mean I didn’t just write a YA novel that will make J. K. Rowling green with envy? Am I not, as my mother is biologically obligated to insist, the greatest thing since sliced bread? What do you mean, I use adverbs like a gas-guzzling truck??”
My crit. partners are right. Of course, we don’t all take every single piece of everybody’s advice. But when three people more or less gently suggest that something is about as useful as dehydrated water, you should pay attention. I want there to be a “Biggest Loser” for fiction writers. “All right, writers, let’s do the numbers! Brenna’s been cutting back on her adverbs this week, and just look at that lean prose! Okay, here we go…..she’s lost……326 words from Chapter 3!!! Woooooooo!!!!!!” And then we jump around and hug each other, manuscripts fluttering. No spandex, though. But we will have T-shirts with pictures of Ernest Hemingway that say “Fiction’s Biggest Loser!”
Just kidding, Hemingway fans. Please don’t hit me. Unless you plan to knock off a few adverbs in the process.
I’m an F. Scott Fitzgerald girl, myself. I like my prose contemplative and poignant, with an unreachable green light shining in the distance. I like a good bullfight as much as the next girl, but what I really love are the stories people tell themselves inside their heads.
As I continue on this crit. group journey, there’s a lot happening inside my head. I think I’m becoming a better writer. I’m definitely acquiring a thicker skin. I’m learning how to take criticism and use it to make my writing better, or at least less adverb-y. And I get to see what’s happening in other writers’ heads. I get to be part of other unfolding stories. After all, this is why we read, and why we write–to “only connect.”
So if you’re reading this, and you’re a writer, go write. And then share it. If you’re an artist of any kind, whether musician, wordsmith, crafter, or painter, go dosomething, and then let people see it. Put it out there in the world. There’s a good chance that it will come back stronger and leaner and better than before. Neglect it out of laziness or fear of criticism, and it will sit around like a blog on which nobody’s posted since the beginning of June.
Get out there and lose whatever’s weighing you down. Say stuff. Make stuff. Play stuff. Share it. Make it better.
Thank you in advance for making the world a richer, more interesting place.