Tuesday, December 3, 2013

IWSG: Pick Your Battles


     

I can't believe that this is the last 2013 post for  Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Fortunately, you can head on over to the official  IWSG Website which is open 24/7 to get you through those rough patches that don't always fall on the first Wednesday of every month.  

A few months ago, I was at a dinner party when I noticed that the hostess had a little something in her nose. I decided to ignore it hoping that someone else would mention it.  A moment later, the object had mysteriously made its way to the tip of her nose. A male guest took me aside, and suggested that I tell her "woman to woman."   

I gathered all of my courage, and gently approached her in the kitchen. She asked me exactly where it was, and then she just flicked it away with her fingers. Afterward, she continued to serve dessert without even washing her hands.

I on the other hand, would have slithered into the bathroom, and blown my nose so hard that the room would've shaken. Then I would've inspected my nose from every angle with a magnifying glass to insure that there was nothing on the horizon. Afterward, I would've scrubbed my hands, and sanitized the magnifying glass before serving the next course. If some of the guests decided to leave during this long and drawn out process, then so be it.  For those who have decided to stay, there is a point to this madness.

What if I remained silent. Would the object have eventually fallen in to our food anyway, or would it have simply vanished in to the background? As writers, is it better to let the chips fall where they may, or do we have to speak up, and give an honest critique of every chapter?

I've learned a lot from the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and often writers say how they don't choose their stories, because their stories choose them. I'm still waiting to tell my story, but my fear is that no one will want to read it. Oh sure, they'll be very polite about it, but how will I really know if it's worthwhile?

In other words, you can pick your friends, you can pick your Internet provider, but if your story is lacking, you risk getting  picked on, or picked over. After months of hard work, finding out that your story is nothing more than a runny mess can really burst your nose bubble.
                                             

31 comments:

  1. But if you don't put it out there you'll never now and THAt my dear, will drive you insane.

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  2. We have to find the confidence to just flick it out there and let it land where it may. Then, of course, wash our hands, smile, and know we did our best. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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  3. If you have some good readers give you their opinions you can use what you like to improve it and make it better. Just ignore changes you do not agree with and eventually you will have a worthwhile story.

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  4. OMG, I could have written this post. I, too, have this sometimes paralyzing fear. Decided just this week to put the short stories out there & see what happens. I like the comment, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Now, let's gather some courage and go for it.

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  5. Sometimes, as my writer friend ML Smith wrote today in his blog, you just have to be brave. And then drink some wine and hide.

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  6. Delores - Well, I'm glad that you don't think I'm there already! Thanks for the great advice Delores!

    Arleen - I guess I have some serious flicking to do! Now if only I knew where to begin?! Maybe we could put our noses together. Thanks for the encouragement Arleen, and for always managing to crack me up!

    Yvonne - Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. I just have to come up with an idea, and try to get serious about it.

    Marilyn - Congrats on taking that big step! I really do need to "gather some courage and go for it." Thanks Marilyn!

    Julie - I think ML is on to something! I thought I was being brave by just putting my silly blog stories our there, but this is so much bigger. Thanks for the encouragement Julie!

    Julie

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  7. That is disgusting...
    Better to know the truth. I admit I can take it better than I can dish it out though. I don't like to hurt people's feelings.

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    1. Alex - I agree! I would also like to know the truth. I would rather have it hurt a little at the beginning, than find out it was a huge mistake when it was too late to do anything about it. Thanks for hosting this amazing group Alex!

      Julie

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  8. Your nose analogy is nothing to sniff at. You have taken the subject and gently placed in humour and wise thoughts.

    I can pick my friends and I can pick my nose. That sounds like I want a new nose, you nose :)

    Gary

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    1. Gary - The nose knows! I think of you when I'm in one of my punny moods! Thanks so much Gary!

      Julie

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  9. The woman carrying on without even washing her hands made me gag a little. Gross! I would have been like you - scrubbing myself in the bathroom and checking my nose 5000 times LOL.

    I know I will want to read your story, Julie!

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  10. Julie, you have a lovely way with words, so I agree with Julie F. I'd want to read your story.
    But I understand your concerns...
    A no-no to the nose episode... aaarrgh!
    Writer In Transit

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  11. If you have a story bubbling inside, you owe it to yourself to write it. Accept the fact that the first thing you write (probably) won't be your best. The good news is that you are the sort of person who sanitizes everything, so chances are that it will improve 100% during the editing process. Better yet, when you get it sparkling, chances are that your next story will be better. We learn as we go.

    Most important, no one can tell your story like you.

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  12. That is disgusting. After years of teaching, I discovered that the most prolific nose pickers are 3rd graders. Hard to teach math while looking at that.

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  13. I'm not squeamish, but the idea of that gal blithely flicking a dangly bit from her nose, and then continuing to prepare the food made me gag. Just a little.

    As for writing your story, just do it! Yes, people will want to read it. I want to read it. And I already know we'll love it.

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  14. It's knowing when to release that story. That's why it's so important to have betas and critters.

    Hugs and chocolAte!

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  15. Once we begin to notice that there are flaws in our writing, we have moved on, learned a great deal. :0)

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  16. Julie - I loved Polar Night, and I'm very excited that Ghosts of Aquinnah is almost here! Thanks for your kind words, and for co-hosting the IWSG this month! I wish that I had even half of your talent, energy, and discipline Julie. BTW, It was pretty gross, but I just hoped for the best, and still ate dessert! See you tomorrow Julie!

    Michelle - You also have a way with words, and I agree with you about the "nose episode." Thanks Michelle, and thanks for all you do with the IWSG!

    Robin - I have lots of things "bubbling inside me," but many of them are unpleasant! I would definitely need to work with a good editor, as I'm constantly making mistakes. Thanks for your wonderful advice Robin!

    Susan - It makes sense that by third grade you'd have had enough time to perfect that particular skill. I wish that you were my third grade teacher, though reading my work would've been as frustrating as scraping off the...

    Susan - After raising boys few things surprise me, but this really caught me for a loop! I still don't know where to begin on a story, but I'm sure it will be something family related. I laughed and cried through Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, so I know that it will not be an easy task. Thanks Susan!

    Shelly - You've really been on a roll publishing one story after another. I don't have any critters, but I better go check in the mirror.

    Carole - As an accomplished author, your insight means a lot. I know that I have many flaws, and agree that it will be a constant learning process.

    Julie

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  17. Oh…yuck.

    But I do know what you mean about people being polite, patting each other on the head, and saying "nice work". There's a lot of that to be found, but if you ever do find a truly honest critique partner willing to tell you where you're weak or lazy or haven't done your research, hold onto them for dear life. I've been writing a long time and it has taken ten years to find a writing partner who gives me constructive criticism in a way that makes me work harder to get better. Makes me trust him when he tells me it's good too. :)

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  18. Some people are just plain gross. That party hostess is one of them.

    What I want to say regarding your insecurities is: write your story. There will be people who like and maybe people who don't, or don't care to read it. That's how it goes. But your writing is amusing and filled with vivid images (appealing or not). You will produce a high quality book. Keep faith and keep going.

    xoRobyn

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  19. Reminds me of the "adage", "You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." Too bad, because if we could, you would have done the dirty work earlier, saved the day, been very sanitary about it, and prevented everyone from worrying about when she was going to lose it and if it would land in the food.

    Unlike boogers, however, flick those stories away. Toss them to willing readers and learn whose opinion to trust. It's easy peasy to figure out who is taking the time (and knows their stuff) enough to give you a valuable critique and who's just being nice.

    --December IWSG co-host

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  20. First...ew.

    Second, write it and they will come? No? I think that's a problem we all have. The best thing to do is to write your story for yourself. If someone ends up wanting to read it, all the better. Easy to say, harder to feel.

    The Warrior Muse

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  21. Luanne - Glad you finally found a true blue critique partner! I can't believe it took you ten years to find one. I hope if that ever day comes for me, that I'll have enough knowledge, and experience to be able to reciprocate. Thanks Luanne!

    Robyn - This really wasn't like her at all. She must've been suffering from exhaustion. Thanks for the pep talk, and I can't wait for you to finish your book. I hope it has a few unappealing images in it to keep us on our toes!

    Kim - If only I had attached a tissue to a fly swatter, so that I could have caught and captured that critter before I flushed it away. I like the way you think Kim! I also agree that trust is key! Thanks for the advice, and for co-hosting Kim!

    Shannon - You've really hit the nail on the head! When all is said and done, I have to be able to enjoy what I'm doing. Thanks Shannon!

    Julie

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  22. I can so totally relate, about the story, not the nose. I'd certainly want to read anything you write, and I would tell you if something were hanging from you nose (quickly, without picking on you).

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    1. Rhonda - Thank you, and I would do the same for you! Congrats on completing NaNo, and I look forward to reading it! I always enjoy your stories, travel tips, and photos Rhonda!

      Julie

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  23. Hi Julie - you have a great way of telling stories Mrs Pick! Honestly - now I really need to go and wash ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks for being such a good sport Hilary! Don't forget to sing the Birthday Song while you're lathering up!

      Julie

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  24. Eww to the booger hostess! I think I'd be passing on the rest of the meal, lol.

    Julie, if your posts are any indication of your story writing talents, you will do well.

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  25. i think if you think something is worth telling, it usually is! and a lot depends on the craft too... if you can write something well enough, people will read it
    i think someone once said something about stephen king: he could make his grocery list into a bestseller! lol

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  26. Susanne - Thanks for the wonderful compliment! Hopefully, I'll get on track soon!

    Jeremy - It's nice seeing you again! Do you know where I can get my hands on Stephen King's grocery list?! Thanks for the encouragement Jeremy!

    Julie

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