Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lemme Tell You About My First Time

I've mentioned my new CP a few times here at Le Dange, cause I'm still kinda giddy at the whole thing.  So guess what?  We survived our first critique.  WOOOOHOOOOO!

A few months back, Rebecca kinda mentioned in an email that maybe we'd make good CP's down the road when we both had something ready and I was all happy cause, actually, I'd been thinking the same thing.  We haven't met but we've become bloggy friends and I think we have a similar sense of humor and that probably counts for a whole heckuva lot in CPville, because, really...  you are going to be both dishing it out and taking it, and you have to do both of those with a little bit of nervous laughter and all.  So I haven't even told her this but I was thinking the same thing and hadn't asked because I didn't have anything ready yet and I thought she might be all set and be like, "OMG... you total lame-o.  If you're going to ask you should at least have something to critique."  Except she wouldn't have said it like that.  Cuz if we had to be Good and Evil for Halloween, she'd be Good.

So we decided to set ourselves a deadline to get pages to each other by the end of January.  That was tricky since it was right around report card time for me, but lemme tell ya, it kicked my writing into gear.  I rewrote the beginning of my WiP for the fourth time (ha) and then actually went on.  Ok, only a little bit.  But it was more than before.  By the end of January, she sent me the beginning of her NaNo rewrite and within a week, mine was on its way to her and hers was on its way back.  (Some people wait until their novels are done to look for CPs or ask for readers.  We're jumping on the train right from the first stop.  I'm only done my beginning with the rest plotted out.  She's done the beginning of her rewrite.  So that's what we traded.)

Let me tell you something about critiquing someone for the first time.  It's not easy.  I've never been a CP before.  Sure, I have my opinions about any writing that I read, but I've never really commented about it to the author before, which , um, is a whole other ball of wax.  She said she wanted me to be nitpicky and brutal if necessary, and so I read really carefully, made a lot of comments and suggestions, told her what I loved, what sounded awkward, etc.  And sent it off.  And waited.  One thing that I can say is that I found it helpful that we write very differently.  While both of our stories are YA, the genre, tone, and even POV are completely different.  So I felt like I could put mine aside and give hers my full attention.  With my red.  Comment.  Bubbles.  (Why do you have to make them red, Bill Gates?  Why?)

I wasn't sure how she would take it.  And when she wrote back, it was much like I thought, it STUNG.  But it got her thinking.  And whether or not her revisions use my thoughts, I was honest and tried to be helpful and balance criticism with positives, of which there are bunches.  Cause her story is mad witty and fun.

This morning, I got my first pages back from her.  And my reaction was exactly the same.  At first... OUCH.  Seeing all that red in your document hurts a little (ok, for a second, a lot).  But, especially knowing what I had sent to her, I expected it, and it's what I wanted - very honest and specific feedback, good and bad. 

Truthfully, the sting didn't last long.  I think I was pretty well prepared by her reaction when I sent hers back.  And I thought about all the blog posts you read about CP's and how you shouldn't get mad or defend your work... honestly, I never felt angry at her, nor did I feel like she didn't understand my story, nor did I feel like I had to defend or explain anything.  Her comments were good, specific, and fair.  When a sentence didn't work, she said so.  My propensity for comma misuse (abuse) was called out.  And, interestingly enough, the sentences she labeled as awkward sort of rang vague bells in my head from when I was writing a few of them... maybe that wasn't the best or clearest way to put that... oh I'll let it slide, it's fine.

How do I feel now that the first one is behind us?  Excited to get back to work.  Ready to improve.  Grateful for a CP that I can trust to be both supportive and honest because in the end, that's what we all need.  We're just at the start of this CP journey, but I'm so glad for that first step.  I heart my new CP! 

*Aaaaaaaand..... end gush.* :)

18 comments:

The Las Vegas Writer said...

LOVE my CP! I don't know what I would do without her. They are few and far between. We are both so lucky to have found them ours :)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

You are so right about needing a sense of humor that works with your critique partner. If I have to give mine a bad critique I can usually soften it with some humor, and vice versa.

Kaylie said...

My CPs have this most annoying tendency to be right. If not for that, I'd like them a lot. Because of them, I have to rip everything to shreds and start again. And again. But then there is far less suckage and the world breathes a sigh of relief that I didn't inflict the old version on them.

Heather said...

Congratulations on finding a great CP! They can be hard to find but oh so worth the search!

Old Kitty said...

Good CPs are so hard to find!!! Fabulous CPs that you fall in love with and heart are even rarer!! So YAY for you you!!!! Awwwwww - enjoy the process and good luck!! CPs should always leave you enthused and enthralled! take care
x

Talli Roland said...

Congrates - you've got over the hardest part: the first critique! It's hard to give and receive critiques - sometimes, styles just don't match or people are overly sensitive. Sounds like you two make good partners, after all!

Trisha said...

Yeah, I know that sting very well - my first major one kept me awake at night and I had to get back on the internet and rewrite based on the comments. They WERE pretty harsh, and the girl didn't really say anything nice. So I felt justified in being sad. But she definitely got me thinking, and her points (though harshly delivered) were totally valid. So she helped improve my novel HEAPS, even if she was a little mean. hehe

Good luck with your next round of critiquing! :D

B.E. Sanderson said...

Congrats on finding a good CP and being a good one yourself. =o) It's a hard step to take. Good luck with those edits.

And thanks for following my blog. I'll be adding yours to my blogroll as soon as I finish this comment.

roxy said...

Glad you got through your first round of critiques. I think that it has to hurt a little to be helpful in the end. I just went to my monthly critique last week, and it was good. Actually, I've developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to receiving feedback. If the comments help, I welcome them wholeheartedly. Your CP is so lucky, I'd love to have you as my sounding board. Have a great weekend!

Tracy said...

That is a marvelous way to have a critique...wonderful idea!!!
It's always hard hearing it although you think you've prepared yourself, yes?
Oh well, the ways of a writer...

Hannah Kincade said...

I love my CPs as well. Hurrah for CPs. Good luck.

storyqueen said...

Your post made my remember all of my fears about sharing stuff with others....especially in the early stages. (I am pretty bad about being a big chicken.)

My biggest fear is, "What is the reader just doesn't "get it"?

And then I have to say to myself: "So what?"

At least I'd know, right?

Congrats to you for being so brave!

Shelley

Ghenet said...

I'm happy for you! Having an awesome CP is the greatest.

aspiring_x said...

i'm so glad you had a good experience, danger! :) a good CP is hard to find, treasure her like the gem she is!! :)

Carol Riggs said...

Yaaaay, you made it! Whew! I always have that sense of trepidation (tho a little less so) with each new critique partner I find, with the first ms swap. It always goes well, though. I'm so GLAD your first swap went well, and now you have a true CP! Congrats.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Rebecca T. said...

I feel like such a bad CP in getting so long to see this crazy flattering, blush-inducing post. I think I'm going to print it out.

I am so glad we were both ready to go on this journey together and I'm so glad that you're as enthusiastic about the whole process as I am :)

I <3 you MORE :D

Naomi Ruth said...

Awwww.... I'm so excited for you guys *hugs*

JL Dodge said...

New follower here !!
I see something I like in the way you share !
JL&B