It's not very Jane Jetsonesque to be without a wordcount ticker during a writing challenge, so if you love one, please share.
You know how your stomach plummets to your ankles when you come home from vacay to find that email you've dreaded? The one you're afraid to click... the one you cross your fingers when you download its attachments?
That's what was in my inbox last week.
The crit from a published author for Georgia Romance Writers' Gin Ellis Workshop.
The workshop pairs a published author with an unpublished one, to offer feedback and improve their entries for the Maggies Writing Contest, sponsored by GRW and awarded in October at the Moonlight and Magnolias Writers' Conference. (Interested? Check out information here and sign up!)
It's the Karma thing, where published authors pay it forward and help us unpub'd along....
Well, I really really really did not want to do this. Criticism isn't my thing (is it anybody's?) and besides, I'm so new at writng-- larva actually, in the gestation phase -- that I knew it would be a waste of the published author's time, energy, and efforts.
But, due to the prodding (read: ass kicking) from my crit partners Lindy Chaffin Start and Pam Asberry, I entered my synopsis, prologue, and chapter (up to 30 pages) to the coordinator with twenty minutes to spare before the deadline.
A month passed, and there it was: the judge's email.
With four (!) attachments.
So, I held my breath and downloaded them.
I clicked open, clapped my hand over my eyes, and squinted at the comments.
Red ink never looks friendly. Never.
Why isn't purple the default color on MS Word?
But, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles... guess what?
Well, no, it really did bleed red ink, so not that....
Maureen.Hardgree, author of Haint Misbehavin' was pretty encouraging. I wouldn't go so far as to say she was impressed with my writing, but she had some nice things to say.
Some very nice, encouraging things....
She liked that I had put in the time on world building (why yes, yes I have...) and that I threw lots of conflict at my hero, which is good (why thank you!). She thought the premise was interesting (I'll take that as a compliment) and that it had possibilities.
So. Okay. I can exhale now.
Really, I'm pretty happy with that. Bloody red ink and all.
I wrote her a thank you email to say how grateful I was that she took the time to point out my areas for improvement .
And she was kind enough to respond that it was her pleasure to help me, and we'll make an appointment to meet face to face to discuss things like
my bad HeadHoppingHabit ... and Too Much Back Story... and One Big Character Mistake I Wish I Had Caught (whoops!).
Surprisingly, from this big wimpy crit wuss, this wasn't a bad experience. Now, later in my career, as I grow and improve, it will get tough, tougher, toughest. Probably soak the page in red ink.
But I have to get tough too.
Judges can be tough, but readers -- particularly readers who review and blog and tweet and facebook share--
They're the toughest.
Okay... Update: 1281 words. I'll keep about 399 of them.
Here are 104 other challenge takers you can follow here.
Maureen Hardegree's book is available on Kindle. Check it out!