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Balancing Act

Posted by Dirck on 13 April, 2015

A quick note, because I haven’t looked in properly lately but I’m also getting anxious to be on to the next thing and would like to attack the current project some more today.

That next thing will be, or should be despite the cries of ideas waiting to get some paper under them,  applying commentary received via my membership in Critters.org, a site which offers a chance at being both giver and getter of critical comment on precious gems of deathless prose, without having to pay any sort of money for the privilege/curse.   The only requirement is that you actually do some critiques and that you not be pointedly hurtful while about it– “diplomacy” is the word the site uses.

On the giving front, it’s interesting to see others’ embryonic and even nigh-full-term fetal writing projects, as one reels from feeling utterly inadequate in the face of authentic shining talent to an almost insupportable smugness about one’s own powers.  As in most things, finding the middle path is probably the best policy.

Due to the pacing of the process, I’ve only had two stories looked at so far, and as such have only had one to which slightly hurtful things have been said which I might dismiss (somewhat) as a revenge from my own honest opinions (which I might have couched better).  There is a similar wallowing between extremes, though, as we find the surprising intelligence that not all people respond the same way to a given stimulus.  Let me share a few samples of what the first story brought in:

Smiles, dancing Prostration, weeping
  • “This one gave me cold shivers.”
  • “I thought the opening was really strong and
    intriguing….”
  • “…the story doesn’t have much of a hook….”
  • “I’m afraid the larger point eluded me….”

Easy to say of the right-hand column, “Those people are idiots and I shall ignore everything they said.”  Right?  Well… except for the fact that some of the more specific problems they had were also visible amid the heaps of praise from the clearly brilliant and perfectly insightful people.  And the unkindly-described idiots were frequently quite articulate about where the problem lay.  Usefully articulate.

The balancing act is, as ever, internal.  Don’t let pride up-end the table, or block the light, or whatever the best metaphor is.  Apply yourself to the condemnation as well as the praise.  Listen instead of yelling back.  Remember that precious gems of deathless prose need a certain amount of cutting if they’re to shine.

This writing stuff is actual work.  Who knew?

Today’s pen: Faber-Castell e-motion
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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