Sunday, January 25, 2009

despair; vitriol

Ok, now I remember why I dropped out of Critters--because I just plain couldn't find anything positive to say anymore. How could I go on pretending to give a shit about the same overwritten prose, the same bad pacing, the same tired storylines?

Authonomy is already setting my teeth on edge. Spam from other writers whose sole purpose is to get my attention and ask me to read their hackneyed shit. Mamby-pamby mealy-mouthed "oh, I loved this!" praise from people who can't put together a coherent critique--so you're going to trust their opinion that your work is actually good?

Oh, I know there are good editors/critiquers out there, but they are as few and far between as good writers. The rest are delusional.

I tried to say a couple of constructive things to a couple of authors. In the first place it was difficult to find anything I wanted to read. In the second place as soon as I started reading I wanted to say No.... NO! Write like you $&#^%*ing talk, for God's sake! Prologues are for amateurs! Ever hear of commas? Why are there twelve modifiers in a fifteen-word sentence? You think this is new? Original? Intriguing? Suspenseful? The answer is NO. And your foreshadowing sucks, too.

It is better, far better, for me to say nothing at all. I'm just going to leave the story up there and see what happens. If nothing, then I'm no worse off than I was before.

On a slightly more positive note, I followed a link through the blog of a fellow spewer of vitriol, and landed on this guy's page: 6 Pieces of Fiction Writing Advice Often Ignored. The first paragraph sums it up in a nutshell.

Writing fiction is hard. Bringing to life a series of manufactured events with pretend people in a world that only exists in your head—it’s a kind of mental origami that takes years to master.

Mental origami: yes. That's precisely what it feels like. That's the first time I've seen anyone succinctly describe what goes on in my head.


AJ Milne said...

I begin to suspect from observing these things (mostly from without) that there is a balance to be achieved:

1) ask yourself: will the feedback improve my work? Really? How much? Are there other ways? Do I really need this aggravation now?

2) ask yourself: do they make blood pressure medication that's up to this? Are the years it takes off my life worth said potential honing of said work?

... of course, since I haven't actually written anything that completed a narrative arc in... umm... (counts on fingers... removes socks... counts on toes... ) I guess it's a bit moot on this end, anyway.

Seriously, it impresses me you keep getting out there, at least. Better to have critted and lost...

I think. Maybe.

Holly said...

Beautiful, AJ--you perfectly encapsulated the argument that goes on in my head. As in the heads of many writers, I suspect.

The trick is, I suspect, is to forget the whole thing, see what happens. Kind of like the submissions process in general.