I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me.
So when I receive critiques, I immediately want to go forth and change everything so everyone will like my words! And that causes major frustration.
Why? Because it’s not only impossible, but VERY VERY WRONG!
Last weekend I went through four rounds of edits for my short literary horror story PERFECTION, which will be published in DIN, New Mexico State University’s online magazine. Every time I got notes, I immediately went to CHANGE EVERYTHING TO JUST WHAT SHE SAID.
Moving that sentence there, or a paragraph there… no problem. It sounds better that way.
Then there are word choices… sentence structure… adding more inner character thoughts. And as I held my finger over the delete key, I paused. Alarms went off in my head.
WAIT! That’s not how I want it to read. But she doesn’t like how it is… I HAVE to change it, don’t I? Is my story turning into something I don’t want it to be?
DING. DING. DING. Give me a prize!
In the end, I get to choose. So I read her thoughts and had to decide how I wanted my story to go. And sometimes out of the process, I wrote an even better sentence or added another layer, not quite what my editor suggested, but something from out of my brain, something inspired by the story and what I wanted the story to be.
Editors and critique partners aren’t there to rewrite your words, but to push you to dig deeper… TO INSPIRE YOUR WORDS!
Yesterday I went to my writers’ group meeting with the fabulous Summit City Scribes of Fort Wayne, Indiana. And I read my newest short story, a gothic-ish horror called COUNTDOWN. And I had a lot of feedback that my brain is still processing.
I have a decision. What do I want my story to be? Only when I know, can take all the comments and make my story better. (Which I need to do NOW, because submission deadline is Saturday. Yeah. No pressure.)
This is a perfect lesson for me right at this moment. I am waiting (waiting is HARD!) for notes from my editor on my soon to be published book. When that e-mail arrives, hopefully soon (EEEK! *crosses fingers*) I might suffer a heart attack, a slight moment of panic… utter terror!!!!!!
Until I remember that everything she suggests… are suggestions, comments meant to inspire me to make the story flow and make the characters shine. After having tried to make the ms better by myself, I now have a partner, someone who wants my story to be the best it can be, but still wants it to be MY STORY!
So as I critique the words of the #nestpitch members of #TeamEggsellent and send out a few critiques to #nestpitchers who didn’t make it to the final round, I make comments in the spirit of inspiring them to make their stories shine, to add something that maybe they hadn’t thought of. And if they don’t like any of my comments… no big deal. It’s their story.
Let’s celebrate our stories and what makes them ours. Writing is hard. Critique partners and editors, who love helping fellow writers on their journey, should lift us up, make us excited about our words.
We write because we love it, because we can’t do anything else.
And we deserve cookies.