I am so tired right now. I know everyone’s too busy to make their lives do the things we all want them to, but I’m really just talking about the waking up too much in the middle of the night, went to bed late because I played hockey and my kid just needed a hug at three am kind of tired. It means my judgment is off. Like seriously askew; beyond three sigma (what’s new, right?).
Still, I’m going to talk about critiques. Honestly, or at least as honestly as I can. Today I’ll talk about receiving. Some other time (maybe tomorrow, but probably not) I’ll talk about giving.
I’m working on my logline over at Miss Snark’s First Victim (great resource for writers, by the way). It’s been real eye opening because that’s something I’ve never worked on. Queries, yes, I’ve studied the art of the query (note: art; not science), and I’ve been working on the craft of writing for what feels like forever**. When it comes to critiquing though, Giving seems waaaay better than Receiving. That’s the coward’s response—well, I am a coward—but both sides are important.
Now I’m going to peel back the brain canopy and give everyone a look inside my head when I’m receiving crits (Yes, this is probably TMI, but I’m at three sigma even for me).
::reads first crit:: OMG they hated it! All those nice words were just to butter me up before they tell me that what I’ve written is complete crap. ::rereads logline:: Oh crap, and now I see what they’re talking about! OMG why did I let anyone else read this crap. Honest to Godiva, I might just have to drown my embarrassment in chocolate, wait, what did the next person say? Maybe this critique is an idiot or something.
::reads second crit:: They loved it! Yes! Take that commenter number one! Oh, wait, they have the same advice. Crap, I have to work on it (well, duh, didn’t I just figure that out from the first crit?). Still, this comment seems like they at least maybe like it. Maybe. Oh crap, what if they were just trying to butter me up too? Do I really suck this much?
::reads third crit:: Ouch, they didn’t like it that much at all. Well, at least that’s some really solid advice. Damn, she doesn’t waste any time with the sunshine. ::rereads logline:: Sweet Mother of Science, did I really write that? What part of my brain thought that would work? I’m such an idiot.
::reads fourth crit:: Oh yay, they liked it. But they didn’t say anything about it. Nothing, just “I liked this one” pretty much worthless. Come on people, I can take the truth. I didn’t sign up for an ego pat, I wanted some critiquing.
::reads fifth crit:: Ouch! Careful what you wish for. ::rereads logline:: By the Letters in the Alphabet! What’s wrong with me, why couldn’t I have seen this before???
Note: these crits are not in any order.
So yeah, this is what reading critiques is like for me. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my crazy up down self deprecating inner monologue of doom. I want everyone to love it, but I also want to know how to make it better. It’s a crazy conflicted place where you’re out there naked and it feels like the world is shooting arrows at you. If you get what you really need (an honest opinion on your work) it almost always hurts—even if they liked it. If you get what you want (“zomg I loved this so much, when’s it going to get to print??), you don’t get what you need.
This is why critiques are complicated, and so very very important.
**no, I haven't been writing forever, it just starts to feel that way after a surprisingly short period of time