– Or Why Writing Is Hard, Part One Billion –
If you pay attention to my blog at all, you will notice that I deleted a story called ‘The Precession’ that I wrote about two-ish weeks ago. This is because I re-read it and really, really, really hated it. And that’s fine. It was a first draft, and first drafts are allowed to suck. Not everything I write can be awesome (though, it does mean I am now down a blog post).
Thing is, I’m now rewriting this story, and it’s hard. I have to put myself in this terrible, awful mental state to get anything close to what this character is feeling and it’s difficult. One, I’m not missing any limbs, so the closest I can get to the pain of having those replaced is imagining what I would do in the event of an amputation. How would I react? But I’m me, and this character is Cedar, and Cedar is more stoic than I am. She is less willing to cry or admit frustration. How do I portray that? How in the bloody *@$^ am I supposed to convey what she’s going through?
So, I’m writing it in blurbs, in small paragraphs and short sentences, and right now my story is the most disjointed thing I have ever seen. I’m terrified that I’m not going to get it done in time or that it will be just as bad or worse than my first draft. I sit down, look at my word document, and cringe.
So far, I seem to be doing alright. I have an idea, I have a focus, and I only have two full scenes that I have to work on. Really, it shouldn’t be this hard. But it is. It always is. Writing takes everything out of me (unless it’s ‘fun’ writing. Like fluffy, sappy, sunshine-and-rainbows writing) and it is hard on my emotions. I have to pt myself in the situations my characters are in and it takes every ounce of sanity you have just to get the words on paper.
That, I think, makes stories real. I can only hope this one is as real for others as it is for me.
February 27, 2013
Taking The Criticism
emigee93 but I promise that I like my writing in general, myself, short stories, stories, this is pretty self depricating, This story was just hard, writing, writing is hard Self, Writing 0 Comments
– Or Emily and the Criticism Sandwich –
I have problems with criticism, but not in the way that you might immediately think. I fear it because I imagine every worst case scenario, every terrible comment, everything bad about my story, and I beat myself up with it.
I am extremely insecure about my writing, especially when I take risks with it. For example, I have to workshop a piece that I spent an agonizingly long time rewriting (for more info, see my last blog post). I wrote it in third person, something I don’t frequently do, because I felt like I needed to give the reader (and myself) some distance from what my character was going through. I made this decision, mostly because I became disturbed by what I was having to write about.
This was a terrible idea.
I didn’t get specific enough. I didn’t outline relationships enough. It wasn’t good enough. Better than the first draft, but not good enough. So, naturally, I began beating myself up about it. I started geting defensive about the first two forum posts about my story. I was becoming a rage monster over critiques, which is a things I hate in myself and dislike in other writers.
So, I prepared myself by saying “I tried something new. It didn’t work. My peers will suggest ways to fix it.” And I started reading the critiques – most of which started of very nicely. I read through four or five poorly disguised ‘critiques sandwiches.’
Critique sandwiches are what I call peer critiques, because I frequently sandwich the critique between two strong compliments. Like, I found something truly interesting and uniques about your piece; here’s something you could work on; but, over all, I thought it was pretty good here. That is the basic structure of the critique sandwich.
Unfortunately, you have to use this structure, even if the story is not so good. And I can tell when people bulls*** because I do all the time, though I try to be sincere in my compliments as much as possible. I realize that I did not write my story as well as I could have, and that disappoints me. So, when I read critique sandwiches that sound forced, I sort of lose resolve to work on anything ever again.
This story, however, matters too much to me. I have ideas of how to fix it, and I hope that maybe, just maybe, critiques on my piece will lean in the direction of ‘here’s how you can salvage this’ rather than ‘here’s how you can duct-tape this garbage heap and pretend it looks good.’ And I hope that these critique sandwiches are sincere, and not just there because my peers are trying to say nice things about the crap that I feel I handed them.