This Writer’s Journey . . .

Writing is a journey, one I truly love and enjoy, but it can sometimes feel rather lonely. Hour after hour, alone, at the computer, pouring your heart and soul into each word. But I’ve learned I’m not alone, in fact, I’ve been blessed to be in contact with some amazing people, both writers and non-writers.

I want to share a bit of that with you. Each week I’ll be spotlighting someone I’ve come in contact with during my journey. Thanks for stepping along side of me—all of you—during this exciting time!

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Previous Weeks: Nicole BaartColeen Coble.

Today we have Diana Sharples.

Remember when I’d mentioned I joined ACFW and jumped into a critique group? Well, Diana Sharples got to be the first writer to read my work.

Poor girl.

I look back now and shake my head wondering how she made it through that dribble. While reading my first chapters, she had to be thinking, “Oh my, this girl is clueless.”

Yeah, well, I was. Heck, I didn’t even know what Point of View (POV) meant let alone how to do it.

But you know what I’m most thankful for? That she took the time to read my work and make all the comments she did. It was the best critique I could have ever asked for.

Goodness that girl knows the craft!

Anyway, she was so supportive in her suggestions and feedback. But the fact that she stepped up to the plate and told the truth is what I respect.

I won’t lie. It stung. I’m not a cyborg, impervious to pain, but her words spurred me on. I could have chosen to walk away thinking, “Oh, this is too big. I’m not supposed to be a writer. I can’t do this.”

But I didn’t.

I still have that crit to this day. I’ll never trash it, because it shows me where I’ve come from. And I’ve come a long way. I get better and better with each novel, and I’ve always kept Diana’s first critique in the back of my mind. When I help new writers, I often share my experience with them to let them know they, too, can move forward. Just need to be open to feedback and suggestions—well, and learning more about the craft!

I thank Diana for her honesty and her wisdom. She’s so smart and talented. I’m happy our paths crossed.

20 thoughts on “This Writer’s Journey . . .

  1. Pingback: This Writer’s Journey « Catch the Rush . . .

  2. Pingback: This Writer’s Journey « Catch the Rush . . .

  3. My first critique was by Diana too. My local’s writer group loved my stuff, but I didn’t trust them since it was a rough draft and was looking for help. I got a few people who pointed out some adverb problems or little things, but hers came back about on the second page basically saying “rewrite this whole thing” but she gave me concrete ideas on how to do so. Exactly what I was looking for, so very thankful she felt comfortable enough to give out the hard truth, if not, how long would I have languished writing like a newbie? I got better so much more quickly because of her and a few others in my critique group.

  4. I love this segment! Writing is certainly a journey, it’s fun to learn about all the characters who have impacted the story along the way. Thanksfor sharing.

  5. Lynn, you were never, ever a burden! The way you tackled your writing, growing with each attempt and so open to learning new things was an inspiration. I’m thrilled at how well you’re doing and consider it an honor to have played a small part.

    I remember the first rejection I received (which was way before I received a critique from anyone). It was a badly photocopied form letter with no date, no salutation, no signature, and nothing that I could take away. No avenue for growth. Just… go away. I lay on the floor and stared at the ceiling for an hour, the tears rolling down with sides of my face into my ears and hair. Figured I was better as an artist than a writer. The first critique I received, the person decided the best way to teach me how to write was to completely rewrite the first three pages herself. (And this person was a dear friend.) Ouch. I’ve never received a critique that hurt as much as that first one, because I felt an element of betrayal along with it. Six months later I was able to look back at it and see what she was really trying to show me.

    A few days ago I received a judge’s comments from a contest and it was clear she didn’t like anything about my story from page one. (I mean, how do you get scores in the 90s from two judges and a 62 from a third?) She slammed it. But in the midst of the slamming I found a thing or two that made sense. *Now* I’m able to look at a harsh critique without taking it personally, but it’s been a long road to get here.

    I love that I’ve been able to help a few people. I’ve even watched some of my critique partners get published, and one of them won a MAJOR award this year for a book I critiqued from the day it was a sloppy first draft. She did all the hard work, but the opportunity I had to help was very rewarding.

    Thanks for your very kind words and for honoring me, Lynn! Love ya, girl!

  6. Hi Lynn,
    Great post! I coudn’t agree with you more. Having our work critiqued is difficult but when it is done right, it makes our work so much better. The trick is to find someone who can point out what we are doing wrong as well as what we are doing right. That’s the kind of critiquer who strengthens and inspires us like Diana did for you.
    Happy writing!
    Kristine

  7. Great story, Lynn. It does hurt when people look at your story and proceed to slaughter it, but it’s for the better. You can’t learn if someone doesn’t point out your mistakes. You can only hope you don’t repeat them over and over again.

  8. The first few crits I got were painful. I think there were some positive notes in there, but overall I was clueless about show vs tell and basic plotting!
    I learned so much. I’m glad my critters were honest.

  9. Great story, Lynn, I’m glad you had a positive experience the first time. I tend to want my work torn apart so I can learn from it, but I’ve learned to be more gentle with others. I NEVER want to turn anyone off from writing.
    BTW-I can’t imagine anything you wrote being bad. 🙂

    • You’re sweet, Ciara. That’s why it was so great how Diana handled that first crit. The writing was truly awful, yet she was so great in how she handled the crit. Didn’t break me. Just gently showed how I needed to improve.

      She was invaluable. 🙂

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