Fault lines are tricky, whether we’re talking about the physical ones on our planet or within ourselves doesn’t matter. When it comes to the physical ones, we understand more than we don’t and as time goes on, a greater understanding comes to the great minds that are exploring them.
Unfortunately, for ourselves, we’re on our own. Sure, psychologists can give us guidance, our own history can give us examples, but ultimately to deal with them we have to face them. Personally, I like to think most people are trying to understand their own faults. To know what buttons when pushed causes within ourselves. I know I do and I can usually handle/deal/stall the reaction long enough to be able to push through it. Usually, but there are exceptions.
Yesterday one of my biggest fault lines was tripped with an earthquake that shook me out of writing and into the constant circling of my mind that tends to happen when confronted with something I don’t understand. I toss it, turn it, wrap it around my head until I’m a twisted mess. It’s one of my biggest faults and it tends to get me into trouble. That and my temper, but that’s another topic.
I won’t go into specifics and I won’t mention names because that’s a waste of time. However, what does apply at the moment is that in attempting to understand and solidify my understanding of a particular group I was involved in, a complete annihilation of communication that tossed me back into the days of high school at the receiving end of what can only be called an extreme bout of childishness followed, leaving me a twisted mess. As far as my husband and I can tell, I did nothing wrong except ask a question.
The situation, as it was, is over and I’m going to let it go because honestly, I don’t have the time. I’m supposed to be writing my book right now, but instead the chat is rolling around in my head. (By the way, that’s why I’m doing a blog post, to get it out!). It’s possible I was wrong, that I was purposing to be too tough or harsh on someone’s story. Honestly, because I didn’t get the chance to make any suggestions to the other person in question, I won’t know. I can live with that… I don’t like it, but I can live with that… what is really twisting me into knots is one thing in particular that was said in the chat.
I stated that my goal for anything that involves writing, whether they are exercises, attending workshops, and yes, even blogging, is to improve my writing. I don’t want to be a good writer or an okay writer. I don’t want to be the one forgotten on the bookshelves after the first book. I want to be great. My freshman writing teacher tore my paper to shred with red ink that left it looking worse than a serial killers crime scene (who needs Dexter when you have an English teacher hmm?). I remember the anguish at seeing all those red marks paper after paper when I was told by peers and parents it was well written until I finally screwed up my courage to ask her why????
Her answer directed me to where I am now. I am not afraid of critiques, harsh or kind, as long as they are useful. I’m like that with my writing and with my graphics. I tell everyone I show either to; “Be honest, don’t hold back. If you hate it, you hate it, but tell me why you hate it and how I can improve upon it. That way I grow.”
I know, and understand, not everyone is that way. That some people will react negatively to the idea, that they won’t like having their stuff poked, prodded, and torn apart. I get it, honest, I do, so I attempt to soften all my critiques in a way that sounds positive and encouraging while giving tips and hints that could improve the story. I don’t expect them to follow it, just as I don’t promise to follow the advice of all my beta readers.
Unfortunately, one of the sword thrusts at me was to be told that I am coming off with an air of superiority when trying to say that I think honest critiques with a positive spin/light to them are more helpful than slapping my back to tell me: “Oh, this was fantastic.”
“Well, shucks ma’am, I appreciate it, but, um, well… what’s wrong with it?”
That’s my response, that’s what I think. I’m not perfect, nor am I a great writer yet in my approximation. Stephen King is a great writer. Laurell Hamiliton is a great writer, David and Leah Eddings, Tolkein, Steinbeck, Dickens, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey…
The list goes on and sadly, I’m not there yet. Hopefully, one day I will be, but not yet, so I’m always looking for a mentor(s) to help me get there, to be my guide, to be an honest guide post for me along the way.
Does that mean I have an air of superiority? Do I come off thinking that I’m better than others in writing or in general? I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll figure it out…
- On Writing: The Difference Between a Critique and a Review (joeymanley.com)
- Writing Critiques: When Do You Stop Listening? (calliehunter.wordpress.com)
- On Writers, Egos and Truth (thesaltwatertwin.wordpress.com)
- Before You Jump Into The Foray Of Writing (aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com)