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.* :)