Do you know how difficult it is to post a comment to a Blogger blog using a WordPress blog as your identity? Really freaking difficult is the answer. But regardless of what blogging platform you prefer, you should most definitely check out L.G. Kelso’s guest blog on Rebecca Hamilton’s blog:
Ego or Gut: Sorting Out Critique by L.G. Kelso
And then you should battle the Comment Monsters (here, I have extra sporks if you require them), and leave both women a little piece of your mind. Both are great bloggers (in the case of L., when she has the time), and at least in the case of L., I know she’s a great writer. I don’t mean to brag, but that critique partner she mentions? That’s me. But that critique partner she mentions giving both good and bad advice? Yeah, that’s still me.
L. usually blogs about the inner-workings of a writer’s mind, how to think about and go about the millions of ways the writing activity (or process, but I prefer the word ‘activity’ for a myriad of rhetorical reasons I could tell you, but only if someone asks because it’s kind of my soap box). A huge chunk of that writing activity involves sharing early and late drafts of your writing with a critique partner, and you know, I thougth maybe it was time to do a blog from the other side: from the critique partner’s side.
It should be mentioned, in the interest of full-disclosure and background here, that I am also a writer. Both creatively and, I suppose I can say now, professionally. Ish. Where L. is a novelist and an ER nurse, I am a novelist and a Master’s student in literature & rhetoric. I have basically made it my entire life to write, where L. has made it her life to write AND save lives. (If you didn’t already gather, that makes her the super hero in the relationship, and me the sidekick.) Another important distinction in our critique relationship is that we’ve been critique partners since we were paired up in our high school creative writing class. We’ve been doing this (together) a long time now.
And finally, we write, primarily, different genres. L. writes YA and adult paranormal, urban fantasy. I write, well honestly, whatever the heck I feel like writing on any particular day. Usually about death, and whatever genre I feel like shoving that particular Life Changing Event into for a new story.
So with all this out in the open, what does this mean for our critique partnership? For the last eight or nine months, now, our critique has been going one way. L. is working on a great YA novel, and I’ve been critiquing (a little slow, truth be told, but L. is indefinitely patient with me) for her. In the middle of L. working very furiously on the edits of her first novel, and the zero draft of her second novel, I occasionally send her the first five or ten pages of whatever new story I’m working.
But that’s an important thing about being a good critique partner, I think: it’s not about staying even.
L. is having a brilliant breakthrough with her first novel (part of her first series), she’s really on a roll with it, and my job as her critique partner is to critique and edit what she sends me. Sure, I’m a little slow, but I’m also excessively thorough. Reading a 300-page MS takes time, and then going back and editing it scene by scene takes more time. But this novel is L.’s baby, so that makes it like my neice. It deserves all the attention I can give it, even if that means instead of spending a few hours of my free time writing and working on my own project, I’m focused completely on her’s.
Good critique requires treating your partner’s work as important as your own.
At this moment in time, I’ve got nothing really to send to L., but I do know that if I did, she’s divide up her time to include my work with hers.
Of course, L. is especially good at the 4 p.m. random GChat message asking if my current ghost-memory plot point works within the confines of my project. Because some days, she’s got a better grasp on the governing rules of my story than I do.
Check out L.G. Kelso's blog on Blogger, Redhead Ramblings.