D.V. Sheppard

The web-log of a duck-herding author.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Critique? Or Not to Critique?

The Wombat and I are in a sort of pre-college course. We have both been in college, and don't really need pre-college preparation, but we're praying folk, and when the opportunity came to our attention over the summer, we felt strong inspiration that we needed to participate. Personally, spiritually, socially - it has been a huge blessing. Through participating and fulfilling the requirements I hope for continued blessings going forward with schooling through a rockin' awesome discount on the per credit hour cost of tuition. 

Wombat - Strut
However, the classes we are taking are mandatory and no testing-out is offered. The results of which mean that I am currently taking a very introductory writing class. Very introductory. I'm only in the first week of class, so I'm not sure exactly how the class will pan out, but so far it's rather enjoyably easy. There's been some nice, breezy grammar review, which has been kind of fun in that way that can only be found when doing homework far below your actual competency. Then, of course, there are the writing assignments, and it's been pretty fun to stretch my fingers and write things that I would otherwise never bother to write.

(I just had assignment in which I had to write a love letter to something. I wrote about my Wipebook. It was precious. The Wombat wrote about pickled okra. It made me laugh and blush. As the class is associated with religious courses I had to advise him to edit it just a tad for content. A little innuendo = you can blame the reader for having a dirty mind. The amount of innuendo he had = hard to find someone innocent enough NOT to blush when reading, Maybe I'll post his paper up. It's totally worth reading.)

Tonight, though, in class we all split up into groups and then critiqued each others papers. This is always fun for me. I fancy myself pretty good at giving good critiques. I may be wrong about that, but I enjoy fancying myself with it. Anyway - my group held a good writer, and okay writer and a poor writer and me. It was fun and challenging to find out - in a very limited time - what would be the most helpful advice. 

Well, that was all fine - but then I got my critiques. Frankly, there was hardly anything to them. Maybe my paper really was that nicely put together. That's nice, but not very satisfying. I was ready for critique. I figure I was running amok of two writer hazards. The first possible hazard: there was no one in my group that actually cared, or felt themselves much in the way of writers, enough to think deep and tell me what might help. The other possible hazard: because one or two knew that I liked to write and did so as a hobby, the word got spread that I am "A Writer" - and who of those that do not also call themselves "A Writer" is going to assume that they could critique "A Writer." 

I was bumbed. Don't get me wrong I got nice compliments and there were three minor pieces of feedback that I can take back and consider while writing my subsequent drafts, but,,,, come on! I want it to get better! Which is to say - I want my skill to get better! Per my instructor, it sounds like I"m pretty set to ace the class, as the course parameters are so basic - and the actual writing assignments aren't earth shatteringly important to me, but... I have to write them, so I figure I might as well get some help in improving my writing along the way.

:p Maybe next writing assignment :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

She May Be Zombie (IWSG)

 Alex J. Cavanaugh's Blog Hop

She Lives!

You may think I am speaking of myself, and while coincidentally that's true, I actually speak - no rejoice in the rising from the dead of my dear friend and favorite writer - the Inkscratcher, herself! - R.M. Whitaker. This dear woman is a dear friend with a talent that I can only dream of achieving. To give you an idea of how rad this woman is - her hobby writing in high school had other writers asking if they could buy her stories so they could publish them. Pretty rockin' awesome.

Well, my dear friend has been on something of a writing hiatus. She's been off gallivanting the world, doing good, living life and rockin' it all. While I've been impressed, proud and happy for her, I could practically giggle with delight  to know that she is warming up her fingers again, and spreading her delicious talent in print form. I absolutely recommend you go and meet her. Click and say hi!

Needless to say, her resurrection post inspired me to climb out of my earthy tomb as well. You see - I could use some help and there is no better place to go than my dear IWSG. You see, divine inspiration - that only sometimes gentle but always correct "nudger" - came to me a couple months ago, smiled kindly and pushed me with not a bit of sheepishness right out of one project and back into another.

Last I spoke here on the interwebs I was working on writing Book 2 (working title Disbanded). I worked on it through fall continuously, if slowly. My determination was firm and I happily finished POV one, and had moved onto POV 2. I got miserably stuck, but Determination kept me hitting my head against the book cover trying to knock works out of my noggin and onto the page. Then came that smiling "nudger". 

I can't deny that it was something a relief, when I got that distinct impression sending me back to start edits of Book 1 (working title Unbanded). However, I didn't realize just what I was getting myself into. I'm being humbled and discovering that revision is hard. I feel like I'm working at a snails pace. I'd naturally hoped that much of my book (because of my obviously and overwhelming talent *now hangs head in shame*) would need good edits, but not necessarily HUMONGOUS re-writes. I admit this with gratitude that I can hide on this side of my screen from the amused "I could have told you that" expressions that you experienced folks have every write to smile my way. 

Because here I am, barely into my book and re-writing most of what is there. It's both exciting and exhausting. I'm making it better than I could have hoped in some cases, but also suffering through the re-positioning and re-filming with my author-cam.

So, while in my meeker state I want to know what you know - or rather:

What do you wish you'd known before your first major revision? What did you not do the first time you revised that you have never forgotten to do again because it's that freakin' amazing? What did you do that first time that you will never do again? Send me your expertise!