When I divorced my first husband, my oldest son was only two. It was a really scary time for me as a single mother. I was working at a law firm as a receptionist/do-it-all girl. I was bored to death just sitting there socializing with everyone who called and/or came in to the office. It was an incredibly interesting job for attorneys that handled patent/trademark and copyright law. The secretaries loved me because I couldn't stand being bored and would constantly ask for something to do. My previous job as a legal secretary was pretty demanding and I did the same as the paralegals. Of course with the new job they began to notice and took advantage of it. But one of my jobs had been to proofread attorney documents. Talk about intimidating. As my crit partners know...I'm not the grammar guru in our group. LOL. The first time I read through a document the female attorney got really pissy about my finds. She asked me to do it and I only noted what I as a reader could see...The remaining attorneys asked me to start doing the same for them.
As a writer...my work could be read by alot of people, not just in the publishing office hopefully. I've often talked about my crit partners because they are wonderful, talented and creative women. On one of the blogs I visit there was a past post about the feelings we go through when throwing our hard work out for someone else to crit that made me think about reactions. I was a newbie when I started in my current crit group and was scared to death to critique anyone elses work. Sure I've had experience. But not necessarily with novels which are a much different content, maybe structure and format are the same. My first group though, I came across a woman who thought she was being constructive but she was demoralizing. And if someone dare tell her something in her work...she was very defensive and had an excuse for everything found wrong. But to me if it wasn't corrected before she submitted to the group, it's left to be critiqued for several people to find. I know I make more than my fair share of mistakes. But she was quick to point out my lack of experience and I quit soon after. From what I've heard...it's pretty much her and one other now.
So...how do we react when someone does a crit on our work? I try to always immediately thank someone if I'm not totally overwhelmed with crap to do. When I open a document and see lots of blue...I may get frustrated, at myself. I also go through and read all comments and nine out of ten corrections will make an improvement. If I like the way I've done something I may leave it until I hear from several, then I know it's just not going to work. When I'm doing a crit...grammar and technical issues are not my strength. I'm an avid reader though and would like to think my money and buying power speaks as a consumer. I know what I like and if I come across a book I don't care for...I won't buy from that author again. I also know I have eclectic tastes, so I try to focus on each crit I'm doing as seeing what someone else might see. It definitely doesn't hurt my feelings if someone doesn't take my advice. I'm not an editor or agent. But it doesn't hurt my feelings so much either to get crits because I try to be as objective as possible without losing my voice knowing that the crit could actually be a reader in the future looking at it. That's my goal, ya know, to have other people read it.
The Art of Entertaining Distractions
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