Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Painful Value of Critiques

Call me a scientist. I have recently embarked on two experiments: Book Roast's March 17th 'Luck' Pitch Party and the Public Query Slushpile, which I have commented on before here. I submitted a 68-word pitch on one of my picture book manuscripts to Book Roast's Pitch Party and its corresponding full-length query on the Public Query Slushpile. I received positive feedback and constructive criticism at both locations. Commentators forced me to address several issues related to my manuscript. The process was not easy, as we all want to believe our work is flawless, but it was empowering at the same time. I had to contemplate my reasonings for certain aspects of my writing with as much of an objective eye as I could muster. While I did not place in the Pitch Party, I consider both experiments to be great successes, as they provided ongoing dialogues that will only strengthen my manuscript.

Miss Snark's First Victim recently posted on the rules of listening to critiques, which includes these sage words: 'Never love your manuscript more than you appreciate your critters.'

Editorial Anonymous also expounded on this issue at her Anonymati site: 'It is not the willingness and ability to write well that separates the amateurs and hobbyists from Real Writers. It is the willingness and ability to rewrite well that makes you Real Writers.'

These experiments have been two more examples of the power of networking with other authors.

5 comments:

StrugglingToMakeIt said...

Painful value indeed. It can sting, but it is really valuable to have others question the choices you make in your writing. My manuscript has evolved immensely since I started submitting it to others for critique. I'm liking it more and more all the time. Just wishing I hadn't wasted queries to so many agents on the first incarnation...

Sarah Garrigues said...

I hear you. That's why I keep a detailed database on what agents I have sent which manuscript draft, when I sent it, and what was the response. We live and learn, don't we?

It takes a lot of trust to submit work to a critique group. Why is it easier to send it off to an agent who could reject it without hesitation than to give it to others whose only goal would be to make it better?

StrugglingToMakeIt said...

Sarah, that is an excellent question and one I ask myself on a consistent basis. You would think we'd want to get the feedback first, but it's hard...

I saw your other comment and I'll check out your query sometime over the next couple of days on The Public Query Slushpile for sure.

writermutt said...

Sarah,
I read your response to my post on the blue boards. I have partnered with someone, but if you are interested, you can let me know your e-mail addy, or see if the moderators will let you PM me on the boards. We can further discuss our writing goals and see if we can work out a swap arrangement. Thanks!
Writermutt

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Sarah,
I saw your post on Verla. You also recently responded to my post regarding a critique group. I live in Concord and am still looking to fill an opening for my on-line critique group. If you are interested, please contact me at nikiofware at carolina dot rr dot com and I'll tell you all about it. I am not opposed to meeting for lunch and going over manuscripts or publishing ideas. I also belong to another group that meets in the area once a month. We sometimes host schmoozes and work shops that you might find interesting. Let me know. You're blog is great.