I really enjoy getting the emails from my critique partners and my mentor every month with their thoughts about my writing. No really. I do. Maybe it’s because the SHU program is geared so that we encourage one another rather than poking holes in perfectly good balloons, but I get excited about constructive feedback from a reader.
That’s not to say that I always agree with everything, or that I don’t have my moments of outrage or feeling like a total failure because I thought I’d conveyed something clearly and it becomes apparent that no one got it. But I derive great enjoyment from little comments about how someone likes this turn of phrase or thinks that detail was well placed. I find myself challenged to improve rather than being cowed into dejection by the notice of an awkward phrase or – and Scott will haunt me with this forever – flights of whimsy that slipped past my usually ruthless editing cursor, of which I believe “horse thrall” will always be the prime example.
I’m not a goal-oriented person, which seems odd for someone who’s working on publishing novels. I’m not a competitive person most of the time. I’ve found that it actively detracts from my healthy state of mind – and when my competitive streak does kick in, you’d better watch our because I draw blood. Yeah, not so good for mental stability. Heck, as long as we’re talking about what kind of person I’m not, we’ll establish that I’m not a people person either. Oh I talk a good game but when it comes down to the wire my gut reaction to large crowds, especially containing people I don’t know, is to run away screaming.
I’m more of an “I can do better than my last effort” kind of person. I work well alone, or in a small group of people who I’m confident will all pull their weight as I pull mine. But oddly enough I don’t often motivate myself to do better, which is why SHU critique groups are so perfect for me. They give me the little extra kick in the pants I need to keep moving through this novel, improving all the time.
I’m willing and eager to show myself up – as long as someone else can watch me do it.
So, how strange am I?