Evolution of Receiving a Critique

Receiving criticism is hard for anyone, but particularly for creatives, as we are all so sensitive. Yet it is very necessary in our writing journey. (See video below for more on why that is.)
So how do you soften the blow? You develop a thick skin, but that is an acquired skill. So practice, practice, practice.
And you learn to look at things with a more critical eye. I was reminded of that when I recently received two critiques back on the very same story. Guess what? These writers told me that they liked and didn’t like certain aspects of my story. And guess what? One loved a certain part of my story that another did not like at all. Yes, I received opposing feedback on the exact same part of my story! And it happened more than once! So always keep that in mind. You are never going to please everyone, so strive to please yourself.
And maybe, just maybe, we should change the word critique to feedback. How about it? Feedback group anyone?

Below is a lighthearted look of how I have changed over time.

Evolution of Receiving a Critique

Pre Stage One

Writer never lets anyone ever set eyes on any story. EVER.

Voice silent…

Stage One

Writer gets braver. Thinks might want to do this for a living.

Writer writes one draft and thinks it’s the best thing ever. Sends it out for review.

Receives critique back. Is shocked at any suggestions that story should be changed. Cries, curses, howls. Vows never to write again.

Voice disappears…

(Two weeks later, after licking wounds, and being unable to stay away from muse, writer writes again.)

Stage Two

Writer a little wiser. Realizes that like any skill, writing has to be practiced and so has done so. Also now has a critique group.

Writer confused by all criticism.

Tries to change everything to please all critiquers.

Voice fades…

Stage Three

Writer even more wiser. Has practiced more. Has read about the craft of writing. Has even taken a course or two.

Writer receives many comments. Realizes that they are all opinions. Carefully considers them. Chooses which ones resonate.

Voice getting stronger and stronger…

Which stage are you at?

Some wise words about how getting better at receiving feedback is actually a skill:

Book Review: “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match”

Early on in my blogging journey, I posted that I was looking for books with bicultural or biracial characters.

Specifically, I was looking for books with characters who are a mixture of Caucasian and Chinese.

Alas, even though I have tried the “customers who bought this item also bought” feature on Amazon, I have yet to find another one. However, at least I have found another book with a multiracial character.

So what does that say? We need more diverse books? Well, they are running a campaign. Click here for more details.

I found out about the book called “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match” in my latest course called “Heart of it”.

I am loving this course. The teacher, Maya Gonzalez, believes that we need to start healing our heart in order to bring out the best children’s stories we can. So there are a lot of unique exercises in the course to help us to do so. I have started to write some stories about issues that still upset me, and it has been very helpful.

I also have started to meditate before I write, prompted by one of the lessons. Read more by clicking here.

But on to the book. Whether it’s her clothes, her food choices or her penmanship, Marisol just doesn’t match. Her cousin points out that her skin and hair don’t match either. But she is, after all, Peruvian-Scottish-American.

One day one of her friends tells her that she couldn’t match even if she wanted to. Marisol views that as a challenge, and so the next day decides that she is going to match. But the consequence? Marisol is unhappy. What will she do about it?

The book is written in English and Spanish by Monica Brown. The author wrote this book because she says, “…like more than six million Americans, I’m multiracial.” People would sometimes say that her and her cousins “don’t match”, but their mothers told them that although they are Americans, they are also citizens of the world.

I like that as much as when I heard Yanni say that when people ask what race he is, he says that he comes from the human race.

By the way, the “customers who bought this item also bought” feature on Amazon yields other interesting finds when this book is typed in. Happy exploring.

Author visit: Alma Fullerton

I got the pleasure of attending an author visit to the local library last week. And I can call it research!

The author was Alma Fullerton, who is the author/illustrator of this year’s “Let’s Read” book selection “Community Soup”. I blogged about this book (that my daughter won) earlier. To see the post, click here.

Alma began the talk by telling some personal stories and even showing slides of herself as a young girl to accompany those stories. It seems that although Alma wanted to be an author from a young age, she actually did not learn how to read until grade four due to a learning disability. She never let that hold her back though, and she emphasized to the kids in the audience that no one else should determine what you are going to do when you grow up. Alma also illustrated “Community Soup” even though she had no formal training in art. But as Alma commented, she never says “no” to something, although she may say that she isn’t ready for something yet.

She walked us through the process of how she illustrated “Community Soup”. You can see some of the process in this video:

Alma used stuff on hand to create her book. For example, she researched the sand in Kenya, discovered that they have reddish sand, so used some red sand she had brought back from P.E.I. in the book.

All three of her picture books–“A Good Trade”, “Community Soup”, and the upcoming “In a Cloud of Dust”–have Africa themes.

For more information about Alma, visit her website.

Have you sat in on any author talks lately?

Top Ten Result

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Well the results are in for the Halloweensie contest, and I am thrilled that I placed in the top ten! Number 8 out of 132 entries is fabulous! Not only that but Susanna Leonard Hill had this to say about my story: “Your entry may have been the funniest one in the pack!”

Click here to view all the results.

Congratulations to all the winners! And an extra big congratulations to everyone who entered the contest. Let’s give ourselves a big pat on the back for being brave enough to enter.

Once again, thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill for hosting the contest. As well, a great big thank you to all the generous donors.

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Hungry for more? Don’t despair, as the Holiday contest is right around the corner. In Susanna’s words: “The 4th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 8-12.” So get your pens, pencils or keyboards ready. Hope to see you there!