Thursday, September 16, 2010

Slushing Through : Sharing Is Caring

Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke is back with another helping of slush pile wisdom.

There comes a time in every writer's life when they need a fresh set of eyes to look at their story. In the beginning, this is usually friends. But as your writing improves, friends are going to tell you your story is great.

What you need is a critique partner, aka CP. I found my first critique partners on internet forums. Things went along swimingly, I sold to Mills & Boon, one finaled in the original American Title competition, another started making better royalties on her ebooks than I'd even seen on my traditional novels. But then, life happened. I had some terminal illnesses in my family and wound up with what I refer to as the month of death. I wasn't in a fun & flirty place for a while.

While I was working through my drama, one CP decided to head to put writing in the LATER file and put law school in the NOW file. It has made for some interesting conversations (she's got to work in some dishy places) but critiquing didn't seem fair since she wasn't writing.

My other CP decided to pursue her own happily ever after - she found a great guy, lost 100 pounds, bought a new house, and took control over her career. She's doing the things she used to write about.

Fabulous for them, but it left me without my security blanket. I knew that they would not let me send anything horrid off to an editor, that they'd protect me from my own cokamamie ideas. I didn't have anyone to pet plot bunnies, or talk me down from the synopsis ledge, or even remind me that I had yet to clothe my characters.

I tried to do it on my own. After all, many authors do. For some, the critique partner relationship is draining, for others it stifles their creativity or slows them down.

Writing is all about finding your own process. There is no one true path. We all meander about on our way to a great book. Some take the Concord, I prefer a leisurly walk with friends. I loved feeling like my CPs accomplishments were my own. I think I was as excited as she was when she got the call from American Title. Every rejection was a learning opportunity since we knew each others stories inside and out.

Going about finding another set of critique partners has been harder this time around. It's rather like dating. You talk, exchange information (usually a chapter), look over what you learned and decide if you want to see that person again. In my experience, I found all the good ones were taken! I wound up begging reads off friends, who are in these great partnerships.

So, I adjusted my attitude and went looking again. Less blind dating, more match-ups from friends. This has worked much better. I'm still not at the level of comfort I was before, but I think I'll find myself in a new, confident place soon enough.

Jenna Bayley-Burke is a best selling author recently featured on Good Morning America. Kinda. Compromising Positions is available free from Nook & Kindle for a few weeks, and made the best seller list for free titles and GMA did their daily top ten list of Kindle bestselling free ebooks and Compromising Positions made the list. But doesn't it sound better the first way? Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! You wrote my post. Yes, that warm and fuzzy zone of partnership in former critique groups is seldom found again.

    I think there's a switch when our writing goes from a dream to an actual business. Publication can do that to a writer.

    Maybe you and I should talk!