If I Could Offer One Critique…

GAH!!

Whenever something is that weird mixture of exciting yet scary, you’ll hear me (or, rather, read me) going GAH! So what’s going on that’s exciting/scary at the moment? I am putting a couple chapters of my baby, Delivering Justice, out there for feedback. GAH!

I’ve polished the first chapter to a spit free shine, and now I’m working on the second chapter. I sent the first chapter to a woman who is in a writing group that I’m a part of on Facebook. She also participated in So You Think You Can Write, and her entry received an R&R (revise and resubmit letter), which means Harlequin is interested in her work. We are swapping first chapters. I just pressed send on my chapter.

Within the larger writing group of So You Think You Can Write participants, we were broken into smaller critique groups. The leader of my critique group of three just sent out an email that we will be swapping about two chapters a week starting today. GAH!

This is usually the part where I crack up, if I haven’t already. Writing is hard enough. Revision drives me up a wall. Having someone read my work always knots my stomach. But having someone critique my writing? GAH!!

I know that this is an important step in my journey for two reasons:

1) sharing my work with someone always makes it better. When I took my words to my coworker each day, it made me aware of the quality of what I was writing. This wasn’t just a book for me to write and put in a drawer; it was a guarantee that someone would read it, so it needed to be good. Aside from this, every time I have had a writing workshop class with critique, the revision of the assignment has been so much better than the original. No matter how well I write, I can’t see my every weakness and fill in all the holes.

2) It forces me to slow down and do this write. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know my first inclination is to hit send as soon as possible. I just want to get it out of my hands and have my part over with. But you only get one chance to make a first impression. I want the editor’s first impression of my work to be amazing. Amazing takes some time. It means not pantsing and leaving time for revisions. It means actually doing revisions. It means seeking other’s opinions on how to make the writing stronger and getting comfortable with feedback. GAH!

So I am having a very difficult time deciding if I’m more excited or scared by having pressed send once and having to do so again before this day is over. Is the story  the best I can make it? Should I have waited? Are these the right people to critique my writing? Is this a step closer to publication? I can’t allow myself to obsess over all of the anxiety involved in this. I must celebrate the victory I’ve just achieved–I sent a chapter of my story out for someone’s opinion on it! Not on the spur of the moment and without revision like with SYTYCW, but something I had the opportunity to polish. That’s something I can be proud of, no matter what happens next.

Do you have a critique partner/group? How do you handle feedback on your writing?

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