Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Critique Sandwich: Tough to Swallow?

Most writers partake of (choke on?) some version of the Critique Sandwich (whether they are aware of it or not).  It goes like this:  to avoid completely demoralizing a writer, the critique partner (editor, loved one, etc.) says something positive first, then follows with what needs improving, then ends with something positive.

When we’re lucky, the ‘filling’ on the critique sandwich isn’t so thick as to overwhelm the ‘bread.’

I’ve been an editor for too many years to count. When I was younger, I was often guilty of throwing a whole lot of filling at writers without softening the critique. I thought I was being direct, saving everyone time, getting to the point.

Well, ladies and gentlemen…during those years, I missed the point completely.

People matter. People’s feelings matter. And there are always nuggets of gold buried in what we may think of as the worst essay, book, short story, poem, song or painting. 

The life of a creative is hard enough. We battle our own inner critic and self-doubt daily. Encouragement of any kind can make the difference in someone forging ahead or giving up her creative dreams.

Today, I received the nicest rejection from a literary agent. Just the right amount of bread and filling -- definitely not a Dagwood special. Instead of being utterly disappointed, I’m feeling pretty upbeat.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Comfort in the Tangible

My friend, Christi, posted on Facebook this amazing photo of a young boy reading in a bombed-out bookstore in WWII London. The powerful image stirred up a bit of emotion.
I write and edit for a living. But on a day-to-day basis, I don’t appreciate the importance of books — or hell, any written type of communication. Words transport, inform, inspire, incite, enrage. I shudder to think of a world without written communication. While I love television and film and YouTube and vlogs (yes, you, Lizzie Bennett diaries), I like the permanence of the written word. I like referring back to books, to links on the web, to my own journals. Life is fleeting. Tangible is comforting.

And yet, it was an image that inspired all this emotion I'm feeling. Hmmm…even more to think about.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Your Biography -- Courtesy of Google

I saw a tweet from a publisher who warned writers that agents and publishers always Google prospective clients. I mean, they have to make sure you’re not a crazy-pants, raving lunatic or a highly opinionated person with cringe-worthy views on politics, religion or the like.

I purposefully don’t post my views on politics or religion on Twitter or Facebook or in this blog. I’m not trying to hide anything. But I’m aware that polarizing views can make publishers leery – after all, I could be alienating a whole segment of potential readers.

I Google myself from time to time. You can piece together a good bit of my history if you bother to keep reading to the 7th, 8th and 9th pages of results.

  • I’m the author of quite a few nursing articles because I was editor of The American Nurse newspaper for the American Nurses Association in Washington, DC.
  • I edited publications for the United Nations – so my name is connected to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other UN priorities, sometimes in French!
  • I was executive director of the Women’s Resource Center in Durango.
  • I teach continuing education classes (writing, marketing, graphic design) at my local college.
  • I have a communications and marketing business on the side called mlm communications.
  • I drink a LOT of McDonald’s iced tea and post about it way too much.
  • I have a cat (and post about her way too much).
  • I have a blog!
  • I have a Pinterest board on cake decorating.
  • In 1982, I was crowned state queen of the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas because of my rousing speech on What Fraternalism Means to Me. (This deserves a whole post!)

My life is an open book, so to speak. And so is yours, yours and yours because of social media. But is your book one you’d want the public to read?