Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Taking It On The Chin

on May 27, 2013


I was scared, trembling and sweat was pouring out of pores I didn’t know I owned.  I was horrified each time I pushed “Send.”

“No!” I screamed.  “Let me take it back!  I’m not ready!”

What the hell am I talking about?  Let’s go back a week.  I decided that I had the first three chapters of my novel in ship shape condition.  It was ready, it was ripe and it was time to send it out for critiques.

My blogging buddy, Gwen, the 4 A.M. Writer, gave me a heads up on a site where I could submit chapters and receive critiques from their members.  Also, I picked a few of my fellow bloggers, who shall remain nameless until I finish draining their brains, to give me some feedback on the chapters I had revised.  The critique site only allowed you to send two chapters; however, my buddies were forced to read all three.

I spent a week biting my nails, tearing out hair that I can ill afford to lose and never wanted alcohol so badly in my life.  I had done it, there was no taking it back now.  I had to just sit back and wait for the critiques and be prepared to “take it on the chin.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been critiqued before.  I’ve attended writing classes, but the instructor was the only one who read my work.  I took on-line classes and found that the instructor was again the only person to evaluate my efforts.

This was a new experience for me, to have people who are no doubt more talented than I, to read my work and tell me what they thought.

And, guess what?  THEY LIKED IT!  I received seven critiques and all seven were encouraging me to go on.  But, that’s not all, folks.  They were honest, they were helpful and they were spot on in showing me where I had more work to do to make these chapters “shine.”

I know many writers like to shelter their novels-in-progress.  They feel no-one should lay eyes on their work until they feel it’s ready for publishing.  Well, I say to hell with that!  I don’t want to spend months making the same mistakes over and over…mistakes that any editor worth their salt would cause them to put my manuscript in the trash!

Every critique held invaluable advice…great suggestions and comments that showed me where the material was strong and where it fell down.  This information is gold to me.  I will return to these chapters, armed with more knowledge of what a reader likes and what causes them to keep reading.

So, at the end of the day, I must thank all the people who suffered through my inexperience as a writer and took the time to take me by the hand and show me the way.  I hope that my fellow bloggers will remain willing to stick with me and keep letting me know when I’ve gone astray.

I laugh now when I think of how I could be so naive to plan on being finished with this novel in a few months.  I now know that this stuff takes time..time to learn, time to listen to those critiques and make changes, and time to check and double check for those crucial mistakes writers can make.

So, I will be busy working on those first chapters…again and again…until I get them right!  Then, I’ll send them back out and be prepared to roll with the punches until I win the match!

My advice to new writers?  Well, when you let someone critique your work, you are must be willing to take criticism, hopefully constructive, and realize that these people are being generous in sharing their knowledge of their craft with you.  LEARN from these critiques..if you’re going to get your back up, get defensive, or expect flowery praise for your brilliant work…you might as well keep your novel hidden and send it in when you’re ready to be published.

Let me know how that works for you…

37 responses to “Taking It On The Chin

  1. btg5885 says:

    Great advice. I am glad they liked your work. All the best, BTG

  2. Zen A. says:

    Sending off the novel to an editor or a critique buddy is something no writer can do without, and they need to make sure they’re sending it someone who will not sugarcoat their words.

    As nerve-wracking as it is, I’m glad they all (honestly) liked your work! It’s an awesome feeling. 😀

  3. Bastet says:

    Great post and that’s the way to go! It’s not easy to write a nvel…you’re going about it in the right was as far as I’m concerned…if you can find willing helpers…go for it!

  4. Bastet says:

    Reblogged this on Bastet and Sekhmet and commented:
    Here’s a writer’s experience…first novel…ask for feedback from outsiders? go it alone? Cranky shares her experiences with us…have a peek!

  5. Love all the advice, yes it is hard and tedious but look how far you have come in a couple of weeks after you decided to write this book, well done you are inspiring me to push on as well, thanks.

  6. Good for you, Cranky! You took the risk and were rewarded!

  7. tric says:

    I need Valium just reading this, and it’s not my novel. I am not sure I could ever do what you are doing.

  8. justlaura73 says:

    This is great advice, and actually helps me out a little just with the blog. I’m not sure I’ll ever write a book. I’ve always wanted to, but I have no idea what it’d be about. However, I struggle with allowing others to read what I write no matter what it is. There are a few people, my family mainly, who I openly share it with, but I have this fear that I just absolutely suck as a writer. So, with this blog, which I started just today, I am a little hesitant to share it with those who know me, but you’ve calmed that fear. Sharing a BOOK must be much harder, and I have to give you props for not only having the courage to share it but to take any criticism well! Good for you! I hope the rest of your novel writing experience goes well!

    • First of all, let me welcome you to WordPress! You have just entered a great kingdom of writers, poets and photographers that will knock your socks off!

      Believe it or not, I am still a “newbie” to the blogging world. I didn’t post my first blog until last November…prior to that, I didn’t even know what a blog was. I just knew I wanted to write.

      What a surprise and a delight when people started reading my posts. I was shocked when people actually commented on them. I am the opposite of you, it took more courage for me to show some of my posts to my family (my daughter is supportive, my sons are leery that Mom will disclose all their little secrets…so I do!).

      Take a look around this land, comment on posts and just take a deep breath and get yours out there. I will be following you and any help I can offer, please let me know!

      Thanks for your visit and again, welcome to blogging!

      • justlaura73 says:

        Woops! Read this comment a little too late. I asked you in another comment what got you into blogging and you answered it here haha.

        I think for writers, or at least people who just enjoy writing, that’s the trick. I’ve tried to have a focus every time I started a blog, whether it was positive thinking or inspiration or whatever. This time, however, I just want to write. I’ve missed it so much and I can feel my brain coming alive again. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written, aside from journals I keep. It feels good to be back.

        No matter who we show our work to, it takes courage! My mom’s a little worried, too, that I’ll let out all the little family secrets haha. That’s the best part, though, don’t you think? Writing non-fiction is the front row viewing of the writer’s heart and mind. It allows the reader to become enthralled with someone else’s life instead of their own. And often times looking into someone else’s life inspires us to live our own better. Anyway, I’m starting to ramble! 🙂

        I will certainly explore more of this “land!” Thank you for visiting my blog, as well!

  9. “I know many writers like to shelter their novels-in-progress”. Yup, it’s a state secret. Not anymore, you have convinced me of the idiocy of that approach. Thanks!

  10. My dear friend, I have nominated you for the Shine On Award! Congratulations, please visit this link for the rules:

  11. mummyshymz says:

    Go Cranky! I admire your courage and perseverance. At the end of the day I’m sure you’ll have a novel that you and your granddaughter will be proud of! 🙂

  12. barbtaub says:

    Nice post! You’re so right about how hard it is to send our little darlings out into the world. And the other thing to remember? Criticism is a two-way street. I’m happy to offer critiques of writing, but etiquette demands that the person I’m critiquing is also willing to review my work as well.

    Congratulations on the positive responses! Did you find the readers’ comments tended to agree with each other?

    • The critique site I’m on requires you to critique other’s works. You get so many “credits” for each piece. You must have a minimum of 2 to submit a story.

      Oh yes, the responses were quick to find my silly little errors and the holes I had not filled. It was wonderful..after reading and reading the chapters, you need a fresh pair of eyes to spot those things.

  13. Gwen says:

    Glad Critique Circle has worked out so well for you! I’m submitting a short story there for review soon. I know I’ll always get the feedback I need from the Critters.

  14. keladelaide says:

    When do you foresee it being ready to send to publishers?

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