Marathon Motivation   9 comments

As I explained in my last post, there is a measure of nervousness that goes along with putting your work up for your fellow writers to review, and critique. This is especially true when you have such a great amount of time and work poured into the piece. That is merely a human reaction. The social need for acceptance is core deep in us all. And this is where the writing game gets tough.

All my usual bull-feather slinging aside, acceptance is not my main motivation for putting my story through Marathon. My main motivation is to discover what, and where my story needs improvement. To discover what will stick out in a reader’s mind, and where they might miss something that I needed them to notice. (The technical help doesn’t hurt, either. I can really butcher grammar and punctuation at times. 😉 )

Now, I will confess that many of the critiques touched on points that I thought I had sewed up. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I needed to fix some things I thought I had down pat. Yet, there they were and all I can say is, “Thank goodness someone noticed them, because I sure didn’t!

For many aspiring authors things like this can be devastating, and that is only natural. It’s human. But, stop and think for a moment. What might be perceived as rejection is not rejection at all. It is an opportunity. It is a chance to fix things before they really blow up in your face. Which is better? To have a few of your peers say, “You have a problem here that needs fixing?”, or to have the reading public believe you have all the talent of a mudpie?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I prefer the former to the latter. I need all the readers I can get, and to that effect I have to turn out the best product I can offer to them. Few people will take a second chance on a product that breaks the first time you use it. Storytelling is no different, and you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression.

I’m not saying that I wasn’t disappointed, or shocked to read some of the things that others noticed in my story. I was. But, only for the initial second, or two while my ego was trying to break out of its cage. Fortunately for me, my ego isn’t as large as my desire to be an author, and I saw what I was being given to me. Pearls. Again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I need all of those I can lay my greedy little hands on as well.

It can be said that I’ve been lucky so far. After all, I’ve been given a passing vote by each reviewer, so far. Well, the week ain’t over yet, and who knows what the next reviewers might find? Either way, it will present another chance to make my story better for the reader. I refuse to see it in any other light than an opportunity for taking my storytelling to the next level.

See? All you Dr. Frankensteins in the Speculative Fiction Group are creating a monster. And, in this case, the monster is grateful for all your hard work.

Now, I have to get back to returning the favor.

I’ll try to keep the blog up to date, but my posting may be erratic for the summer. Marathon is far more important at the moment, and I have to do my part to try and help, if I can.

It’s a big debt to try and repay, but I’ll do my best.



9 responses to “Marathon Motivation

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  1. No matter how many times my work is read, each new time makes me nervous all over again. Yes, it can hurt for a few minutes (or hours) but then you sort through the information and see what you agree with and what you don’t. The point is making use of the comments and improving.

    I try to keep in mind that these readings are looking for things to find wrong. Some of what they come up with is small and very picky. And a lot of remarks are a matter of taste. Too much description, not enough, which POV to use, the reader enjoys warped characters or avoids them, that stuff varies by person.

    • Same here, Michelle. I don’t think the nervous feeling ever goes away.

      But, I tend to calm down once the critiques start coming in. Even the nits are useful, and personally, I consider every one of them. Some are based on taste, and some give me insight into how I might have handled a scene differently. The sweetest thing about the process is we get to see how another reader might view our work. What might confuse them, what they might miss that we wanted them to notice.

      It all boils down to a ton of extra work, but in the end that is exactly what we need. We tend to stay too close to our own stories and the extra revelations are almost always more helpful than anything else.

      And, BTW, thank you again for your insights into my story. I found them VERY useful. (dear Gods, am I going to have a heck of a list for the ‘Shout out’ page once I get the story ready for publishing! 😀 )


  2. I find if I wait a few hours and reread comments, they aren’t as cutting as my tender self felt like they were. Even the ones I don’t agree with have been helpful. Good luck with Marathon.

    Jen W. Merritt
    • That they are, Jen! Thank you for stopping by.

      It is always a case of how we look at it. Every comment has some merit, something we can use to craft a better story.

      They are certainly easier than the critiques the ‘Pros’ do. Some of those folk seem to think their whole job is just to see how clever they can be while being cruel. At least we are all trying to help each other out. 😉

      And, best of luck to you, as well.


  3. At this moment, I have to give voice to my single deepest regret in Marathon.

    That I don’t have enough time to get to as many critiques as I would like.

    Not that I am a super critic, or beta reader, but that their are so many good writers taking part in this year’s session that it is nearly impossible to get to everyone. And for that, I am sorry.

    I will, however do my best, and if I happen to miss you; please accept my apologies. It wasn’t on purpose.


  4. I thought I had a great story going. I got a lot of no’s.

    Wow. great feedback. Best feedback ever! I’m off to rewrite chapter one. I’ve got some new ideas on how to start this thing.

    Great points. You hit the nail on the head again. (Don’t you just love cliche?)


    • I think I like cliche a little too much at times, M’man. Heck I’ll even make them up, form time to time. 😉

      A little secret… just between you me, and the lamppost. (See?)

      You DO have a great story. Remember I have the privilege of being able to read the whole thing. Don’t equate polishing points with a bad story. Those are two entirely different animals. (Boy, they just keep on coming, don’t they?)

      The biggest advantage to Marathon, is we get a chance to see a cross reference of how readers could react to our work. And, (Here we go again!) Forewarned is forearmed.

      I better get the heck outta here before I get arrested by the cliche police. 😀

      Keep ’em flying, Dean!

  5. Oh it hurts to get critique, almost always. I often have to read my critique and then walk away for 24 hours until the sting wears off. Then I can come back and look at it all rationally, and decide what advice to take and what to ignore.

    I am still always amazed, too, at how each person notices different trouble spots. It’s awesome to have the opportunity for multiple critiques! You are very brave to put chapters up!

    • Not really brave, Michelle. I can’t speak for the others, but I’m taking advantage of an opportunity.

      True critiques can often seem hurtful. (Not quite as bad as the ‘Pros’, but that’s another story.)

      The truth is, with multiple critiques, you have a unique opportunity to see what readers see when they first read your novel. It is a chance to close glaring plot holes, clumsy scenes, and get something of an idea as to what readers want in a tale.

      There are many things that we can safely ignore, if we’ve done our homework/research, and things that we know about the story that our critiquers do not. From that feed back alone we can guess if a plot twist is going to work, or if we have to steer the reader in the direction we want them to go more efficiently.

      Yes it IS nerve wracking, but we couldn’t buy insight like this. 😉

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