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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.

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Monday, 29 March 2010
Sorry I'm late this week. I was hoping to have the details of where I am tutoring this summer. No luck, but watch this space! Who reads your books before you send them off? Do you have a critique partner? Do you belong to a writing circle? These questions are much of a muchness and a subject I dread because they tell of insecurity and I am always afraid that, whatever answer I give, I might make matters worse. Who reads my work? No one reads a word of my books until I have finished them. Then my partner reads them, he corrects any spelling mistakes – usually plentiful despite the spell-checker - and glaring grammatical errors but he doesn’t criticise. It would be nice to think this was because they are perfect – not so, far more likely is he doesn’t want a stand up row! Then my agent reads it and she will criticise and say if something isn’t working - and no, we don’t have a row! (I have done it once for the small group I mentor - for the first time ever. I presented the first chapter of a new novel, it was valuable but for all that I found it uncomfortable. In future I will submit but not work in progress – it is too confusing.) Do you have a critique partner? For me, this question is redundant. However, I know many successful writers who do have critique partners they share with and listen to. And some feel they could not write without them. Do you belong to a writing circle? I’ve never joined a writing circle. I’ve written about them and I’ve given talks to several. What puzzles me about a circle is the diversity of work there can be - so that someone who does not know, write or understand your genre might do untold damage to the writer. One I gave a talk to had novelists – literary as well as commercial - short story writers and poets. Now I could just about give some help with a short story, but with the caveat that I don’t like writing them since, for me, they are far more difficult to do than a novel. And what I know about writing poetry wouldn’t even begin to cover a pin. I could not have helped them and I left feeling doubtful that they could help me. Advice. NEVER show your work in progress to anyone who does not understand, read or love your genre. There is another risk I’ve noticed and this is linked to insecurity and, in my opinion, can only make matters worse. The more unsure the more people the writer tends to ask to look at their work. Now, if everyone comes back with the same conclusions – good or bad – that is fine, but what if the whole lot have a different input and opinion? If you asked six then you risk hearing six conclusions which will send you into a greater tizzy. You have the best critic in the world – always honest, tells it as it is, is invariably right and that is dear reliable INNER VOICE. Do try and locate it, do try to have confidence to listen and abide by what it has to say. And finally. If you ask a busy, published, writer to look at your work don’t then ask every busy, published, writer you know to do the same! Invariably we find out and, having dropped everything o help, it is annoying to discover you are one of many and that obviously your opinion was not sufficiently important.

3 comments:

  1. A timely post Anita.

    I made a decision not to share with anyone except one reader. She is an avid reader of the the genre mix my novel falls under. She was given the first three chapters, on the understanding that she is the only reader to be given the privilage.
    I chose her because DH is not a reader. He wants to read the complete book, when it is a published piece. He said that would be the greatest compliment he could give, as he does not like reading books. He feels he cannot give his all to reading my MS, and I adore him for his honesty.

    Unfortunately my reader has let me down. I found out from another person that they have had their hands on my ms. My reader has not been faithful to me, and has shown my work to someone else. This has made me decide not to share ever again. I feel let down.
    I am now going it alone, no group or reader for me. I think you have probably read my Group Hug & Gucci Shoes post about me and a group visit here in Cyprus. If not I will leave the link for you. It will explain why a group is not for me.:)

    Gosh, sorry I rambled there. Interesting post, thanks Anita.

    http://www.glynissmy.com/2009/06/group-hug-and-gucci-shoesno-thanks.html

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  2. Great post Annie, which tugs at a niddling question 'how on earth do you really know if what you have written is any good...?
    My Inner Voice is a Jekyll and Hyde - telling me I'm writing wonderful things one day and total rubbish the next.Sigh.

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  3. I missed your blog on blurbs, Annie, and I have only just read it.

    It's really useful. I've just been reading information re submitting to a strong independent publisher, and they want a blurb and not a synopsis!

    This is something that I've never written and I couldn't have read your blog at a better time.

    Many thanks, for it.

    Liz X

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