Writing and critiques are so subjective. I think that is the hardest thing about opening your work up to others; you NEVER know what you are going to get back, what the reader is looking for, or what he or she will respond to. To be honest, I hate this part about being a writer.
I have one long project I’ve been picking away at for several years. The feedback on it is always on one end or the other. Love it or hate it. Get it or don’t get it. Comments that are useful, comments that are ridiculous. I’ve experienced that in person, online, and through the mail. Instructors, fellow writers, published writers, unpublished writers, agents, editors. Everyone reads differently and everyone responds differently. It’s hard navigating through the extremes…at least it is for me!
For example. I received two critiques in the mail today. One loved my work and writing, gave me high scores on a variety of topics (scene, summary, characterization, plot, etc…). That person gave me a score of 90 out of 100. Sweet! But then I opened the second critique. That person didn’t care for my work and gave me lukewarm marks. Didn’t like my characters, didn’t care about them (he even wrote that!), said I had no plot, and a few other niceties. He gave me a 54 out of 100.
So what is a writer to do with THAT? Two critiques. Apples and oranges in response. Ugh. I’ve loved writing from the time I learned how, and I feel lucky to have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. But this is the part of the game I just can’t stand!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…
A few months ago, a bloggy friend of mine (Not Just Another Jen) wrote about her experience at a Bloggy Boot Camp in California and encouraged fellow bloggers to attend a camp if they had the chance. (She also mentioned that the gift bag attendees received at the end of the camp was rather amazing.) Apparently, even after four solid years of blogging, I was living under a rock because I hadn’t heard of Bloggy Boot Camp before. I immediately looked it up and was happy to discover boot camp was coming to a city nearby. Lucky, because they only go to six major cities per year! I signed up right away.
I learned quite a bit and took lots of notes, some of which I’ll share in a separate post. One thing I liked was that seating was assigned, and we changed seats about every hour or so. This gave everyone many opportunities to meet fellow bloggers and exchange business cards. For some reason I left home without even a handful of my own hundreds of business cards from my desk drawer, so I was disappointed about that. What an extraordinary opportunity I missed to network in that way!
Some of the topics covered were Growing a Lifestyle Blog, Things Every Blogger Must Know About Monetizing a Blog, How to Write Pitches that Work, The Writer’s Voice, Business of Blogging, Taming Time: Creating Calm From Chaos, and several others. We wore badges with our name, blog, and Twitter handle displayed, ate a great lunch on the top floor of the hotel, and left with a gift bag that included an ice cream scoop, measuring cup, serving spoon, wine bottle opener, chips, and other little things.
More to come on that. Off now to lick my wounds and wonder how on earth I could receive a 90 from one critic and a 54 from a second, both of whom read the exact same work. Nice!