Monday, October 25, 2004

inkblot crits

I saw my real-life writer's group Saturday. They read "Galatea" and they all loved it. Alison said, "This was obviously written by an adult. That older stuff you have about Quinn was obviously written by an adolescent." A few years ago that remark would have angered me. Now I can only nod in agreement and resignation. I know that "Ariston" needs to be rewritten...again. I know Rowling rewrote the first Harry Potter book again...and again...and again. When you have an idea, and you believe in it, you keep fixing it until it works. The problem is, I've been looking at Ariston for so long, I can't see the story for the words. I feel like Michaelangelo, chiseling away everything that isn't a statue.

"Insomnia" is up on critters this week. Predictably, it hasn't gotten a lot of crits, because of the length. I know this because I've had five crits on it, and all of them start with, "I don't normally like to crit pieces this long, but WOW this is a good story!"

Most everyone agrees the story works. No real complaints about the present tense, or the shifts in POV, or digression of the plot. Most people want it to be longer, not shorter.

It's always funny, to me, how crits are an inkblot of the people writing them. One woman wrote a very insightful, complimentary and helpful crit, but spent almost a third of it complaining about the Churchill character, and how he reminded her of certain evangelical Christian types, which offended her, and he was both over-the-top and a cliche, and unnecessary because the story already resonated with themes of man-playing-God, and besides which, the spirituality implicit in the story was more humanist than reliant on a deity.

O...K. While her analysis would certainly deserve an "A" in any English lit class, I think it was reading a bit too much into a character who only has five lines in the entire story. Excuse me, miss, but your prejudices are showing.

Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with saying "this offends me," in a crit. It can be helpful in fact, because a writer should be aware of anything that may alienate her audience. But for pity's sake, just say you're offended by it and move on.

I myself have not critted anything this week. I haven't had time, with the kimono and all, and it's a pity because there's some good stuff up this week. I still have three days; maybe I'll get something in. Then again, I've got two other stories on the back burner, plus Ariston and Natoshi to rewrite. Ugh. Do I really want to go over that ground again?

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