Every Journey is Different

I’ve been listening to the Pocahontas Soundtrack as I draft my new WIP, so I apologize for any Just Around the Riverbend references I use. But, the meaning behind that song is what I want to talk about today.

If you’re a writer, you know that putting your words on paper is just one step of the process. It’s an important step, don’t get me wrong. If you’ve finished a draft give yourself a pat on the back. It takes motivation and perseverance to do that. You’ve sent it out to critique partners and groups, cut it down, killed your babies, renamed characters. Now comes the next step.

Everyone does querying differently. I’ve been in the trenches since February with my first MS. After getting rejection after rejection, never having a request, I got some good feedback. I’ve changed it around, but am going to let it sit because I’ve got another MS that I feel could be great.

I just started putting out that MS a month ago. I’ve gotten a few rejections, the ones with feedback mention that it is solely the marketability of the genre they’re worried about. Something I can’t do much about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s disheartening to get those emails.

I’m a competitive person. There were many reasons why I played rugby in college. I like to win.
rugby hits

But if you compete with other writers, then you lose. We’re all on the same team. We help each other clean up our writing and get ready for submissions. To spend time comparing yourself to others just hurts us in the long run.

Now I’ve entered contests, plenty of them with both MSs. For those of you who have done the same and never gotten in, it isn’t the end of the world. There are so many different paths waiting for you, just around the river bend. (Sorry.) So put those aside and jump in.
Just around the riverbend

I know getting a rejection can feel like the end of the world, especially when your friends are getting requests. They’re so excited, and you are too for them. But on the inside you feel like this some times:
Minions crying

DON’T! They wrote a different story than you, right? Does that mean their writing is better? Not necessarily. All that is is that they happened to find a certain agent or editor that likes their work. PUBLISHING IS SUBJECTIVE! I know we’ve all heard that before, but it’s true. Remember, all it takes is one YES!

Author, Susan Dennard, just had a great post in her newsletter about comparing yourself to others:
http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=cdd0d036e9531dd416bf945b3&id=e79ef1007b

She’s also a great author to follow if you’re trying to break into the business. I suggest you check her out.

Just remember, if you’re putting your work out there for agents and contest hosts to read, you’re taking a step closer to your ultimate goal. It might not feel like it sometimes, but it’s true. So don’t ever give up just because you see someone else doing better than you.

The Art of Critiquing

If you’re a writer, you know that critiques are essential. Having a fresh pair of eyes reading your work helps pick up plot holes and grammar mistakes. They can point out when something doesn’t make sense, even if in your mind it does. It’s not that they’re trying to be mean. No, they want to help you make your work the best that it can be.
Superman

I’m part of a large critique group that meets once a month and you get to submit every few moths. I also have a smaller online group where we all send our work in each month, as well as another online group where we can submit whenever the mood strikes us. I also have a few critique partners.

So, for the most part I have a lot of eyes that go over my work. But with contests coming up, I started switching my pitch and first 250 of ELEMENTAL with other writers. Sounds great, right? Well, the other day a girl I was switching with messaged me back with my critique. In the forward message she said she had a lot of comments because she didn’t like my premise of a demon-fighting witch. She claimed that in literature most witches are on the same side as demons. So, I bit my tongue and read her comments. My reaction:
Weasley twins 2
(Yes, the Weasley’s will be backing me up.)

It’s not that I’m upset that she didn’t like it. I know that people have different opinions. It’s okay. I’ve gotten enough praise from my large critique group to know it’s a good story, even if the genre is a hard sale. But that’s not what the critique is supposed to be.

When you critique a work, you are looking for discrepancies in the writing. Your critique should be bias, well not totally bias. It is okay to let someone know if you like it or not. But your critique isn’t supposed to be based on that.

I went through her comments, and changed the places where she mentioned that I had telling verse showing. Those comments are helpful and made my scene better. So, I sent it back to her. She replied saying that she didn’t know why I sent it to her because she was just going to comment on parts she didn’t like.

Again, that’s not what you’re supposed to do. When you write a critique, you go over the mistakes you found, but you also mention what you like. If the writer has improved in their skills. If there are lines you were captivated by. If you would read on. A critique is not to tear someone down, but to build them up and help them become an amazing writer.

I’m fortunate enough to have met some amazing people through this process. I’ve grown as a writer since I started, and I have to place credit on my critique partners and the groups. A constructive critique creates a better writer, a negative one makes a writer stubborn. Just remember that when you are asked to look at someone’s work.

If I Were Sorted Into Any House

So it’s October. There are so many things I love about October. But there are two things that are happening this month that is making me write this post. First, the twitter contest, #PitchSlam is happening. Yes, I’m doing another contest. I usually don’t win those, but I’m throwing my new MS into it, so we’ll see.

The theme of #PitchSlam this year is Hogwarts houses. While I’d be happy to be taken into any house, there’s one I love above them all.

Also, my apartment is about to get a serious make-over into Hogwarts. Yes, my place is about to become Hogwarts.
Hogwarts

While my roommate and I were discussing all of this, I learned something very important: Not everyone wants to be sorted into Gryffindor.
Weasley twins 2

That took me a second to comprehend. Gryffindor is the only house I ever thought worthy of me.
Weasley twins

Of course as Harry Potter was coming out I was in between the ages of 7 and 17. So everything was very black and white for a time. But even as I approach my 25th birthday, I still believe that Gryffindor would be the house the sorting hat would place me in.
Sorting hat
This is why:

My roommate wants to be in Hufflepuff, and I can see it. I also think my boyfriend would be in Hufflepuff as well. The two of them tend to focus on happiness and caring for other people. They are both very giving and kind. My boyfriend, like me, is an environmentalist.

hufflepuff

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those qualities. I believe I have most of those qualities as well, and I value them. Hufflepuff is even J.K. Rowling’s favorite house.

JK Rowling

Many of my writer friends would chose Ravenclaw over any other house. Most of them consider knowledge the best trait. As an avid reader and writer, I do agree that knowledge is a great power.

Ravenclaw

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone I know that wants to be in Slytherin. Not that there’s anything wrong with Slytherin. I actually wouldn’t completely mind it, but I’m not cunning at all, except in my writing.

Slytherin

Now, here’s why I would use Gryffindor over all the rest. It’s not that I don’t think that being kind, smart, or cunning is horrible. It’s also not because I think bravery is better than them all. But what if you were smart or kind, but hid those factors from the world.

Hermione

What if you weren’t brave enough to stand up for what you believe in. You could have dreams to join the Peace Corps, to make a difference in someone’s life by offering a helping hand, but were too afraid to leave the sanctity of home. Or what if you wrote an amazing tale, the next greatest novel, but didn’t show it to anyone because you didn’t want to get a rejection.

This is where bravery takes a stand. Not all people who are brave have to be headstrong and rush into things without thinking. Now, I tend to do that, a lot. I pride myself on that. Maybe it’s not the best thing, but it’s who I am. I’d also chose Beater as my position in Quidditch (if that tells you anything about me.)

Taking the next step and showing yourself to the world acquires an immense amount of courage. So, yes you can have a high IQ, a huge heart, or a quick mind, but if you don’t have the guts to show people that, then those traits can’t help you.

That is why I believe courage is a trait everyone should have and why I would chose to be sorted into Gryffindor.

Quiddich