Tag Archives: critique

Use it or lose it

Have you ever wakened in the morning with a story idea in your head? Did you capture it right away or did you decide to wait and write it down when you’re more awake, sure you will remember it? How many times have you lost a great idea with not a clue as to what it was?

How many of your dreams have you known would make great stories, but as soon as you are fully out of that sleep the whole scenario has faded away never to return?

Muse departed.  Opportunity lost.

Paper and pen are by my bed for just that reason. There are times I have wakened very early, a poem or the beginning of a story in my head. I know I would not remember later what was in my mind. Just this morning as I was waking from a dream, I was thinking that it would make a nice story. When I closed my eyes again for just a few moments the vision started to fade, so I hastily jotted down what I could recall, some already lost. The ‘feelings’ around such things that come in that way quickly dissipate so that the opportunity has to be grabbed right then.

Now, how many tales have you made up and told to a child – maybe as a bedtime story, or at a time the child needs to be distracted or comforted? Or have you simply thought it all out in your mind for the fun of it? Did you write it down or did you not see its value? Or maybe you were driving, or in a place where you can’t write anything? A friend told me that she recently was in a public washroom when a story idea hit and … well … her idea escaped. That’s the thing about a creative’s mind … always busy, always dreaming, always thinking.

My dear mother was very creative. She used to tell me that many years before, when she lived with some cousins, she would help get the youngest one to bed each night. Her cousin loved for Mum to put her to bed because then she’d get a bedtime story, Mum making it up as she went along. Each night would be a continuation of the night before, and usually with humour in the story. Mum often told me that she wished she’d been able to write them down because they were such cute stories, but years later she couldn’t remember them.

For over thirty years Mum was a schoolteacher, and after her passing my sister came across a story Mum had written for a summer course she had taken many years before. I remember that she was so pleased about getting a good mark on that project. This story we have that she created is now in my care, Dad would love to see it published.

Recently joining a picture book critique group, I submitted her story for their viewing and frank opinions. The responses have been very positive, and I’m sure I have felt Mum’s pleasure with their comments and suggestions.

May I suggest to you …

When you come up with an idea, write it down. When your Muse visits, pay attention and take notes. Such ideas fade quickly, story details lose themselves in our busyness, whole stories are lost – maybe whole worlds.

So … what do you do about ideas that come when least expected? Are you always prepared to capture them or do you take a chance that you will remember?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

Re-vision and revisions

I haven’t been posting lately to my blogs.  Why?  I do have a valid reason (excuse?)  I had been reading so much that my eyes were getting too tired and strained, and the small print in one book was hard to see well.  Being due for an eye checkup I made the needed appointment.   The result is that I now have stronger reading glasses, and with better vision I am able to get back at my reading.  I added another book to my ‘have read’ page, and hope to do well with my reading in April.

Remember I told you about a story I was working on, cutting it down?  I finally got it from nearly 3000 words (actually 2994) way down to 1300.  Amazingly, nothing of the heart of the story was lost in the cut.  My critiquer gave me further suggestions, and I worked on a second revision.  Now I am waiting to get further response on that before I send it on to a magazine to see if they are interested in it.

I also have some other stories brewing.  Maybe they will be for magazines, maybe short stories.   Not sure yet.  I will have to see where my muse will take me in those.

SO, how’s your ‘vision’ lately?  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Critiques and crankiness

How did you handle your first real story critique?  Me?  Not so well.

My rhyming story was not too bad, I could see where there was room for improvement once I understood some things I didn’t know before.  It will likely come back from the publisher with a rejection letter.  But then another story, the beginning of a possible novel in which I had invested more, was critiqued.

Owie!  To say I was a bit upset would be quite safe to say.  😦  I had thought it would receive ‘good story!’ and ‘well written’, ‘great ending.’  (I planned to build the story in the middle to make it longer and more involved.)  Um .. well, what I was told was not exactly like that but close.  Close wasn’t good enough in my mind.  I was not expecting to be told to take out this and that, make those changes, and cut it down for submission to a children’s magazine.  Nope, wasn’t expecting that.

So how did I handle my first real story critique?  Somehow I overlooked that I was told something positive about ‘my voice’, about my characters being great, about the great message.  Instead, I found myself getting out of sorts, sad (yes, I admit I actually shed a few tears), glum, discouraged.

My husband came home from work, and after a few minutes had passed he asked, “Okay, what’s bothering you?” with concern showing in his face.

“Why do you ask that?” I replied.

“Because you are the way you are when something is bothering you.”  Very observant of him, I thought, appreciatively.

But then I said … “oh, I dunno …. nothing.”    Not ready to talk about it.

And what did my concerned man do?  “Oh …. okay then ….”  and resignedly he walked away.  He walked away!   He gave up.  Just like that.  Hmmm

And what did I do?  I thought, but didn’t say, “Humph!  Okay then, don’t try again to find out.  That was not the right thing to say!”   *Sigh*   (It is hard for men to know when to pursue and when to leave it alone.)

Oh, the games we play.   Why is it so hard to just say what’s bothering me?  Why does opening my heart to him feel so raw and invasive?  Maybe because I was not prepared to deal with the emotion yet, and – feeling very disappointed that what I had written was not good enough – I had to work that through.  Yes, I felt a little cranky about my writing being challenged, but I didn’t take it out on him, nor did I go all evening like that.  Eventually,  I looked at my story again and started cutting, making those suggested changes, seeing the potential in it.

Before I got to that place of facing the challenge, I asked myself, “Is this  what I really want to do?”  Write, write, write, face critiques, cut, change, add, start over.  Am I cut out for this?  Maybe I am.  Is it worth finding out?  Durn tootin’!  I will keep at it until something happens.  Either I will be successful in being successful or I will be successful in finding out I am no good at this.  🙂  Looks like a win/win situation to me!   (Thanks D.E.)

I see now that in order to make my writing all it can be I have to let change happen.  I have to accept the challenge.  And I am willing to do that.

So, what’s your story about your first real story critique?  How did you handle it and what has it done for your writing?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂