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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » But I Don't WANT to Be a Novice!

   
Author Topic: But I Don't WANT to Be a Novice!
Albatross
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I'm getting my first critiques now, and it's painful. I know it's good for me, but it's like getting a vaccination. Ouch! And they're right...

I know I have a ways to go. I'm a novice. I can't help it. But I wish I weren't. I know where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. But it's so frustrating! Why can't I just BE the author I want to be?

How can I deal with my impatience and frustration? How do I get past this whole novice business? And tell me the truth, how long will it take?


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TheUbiquitousMrLovegrove
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Sigh.... It takes a long time. I've been writing little stories since I can remember. I got serious about it when I was 17. Now I'm 19, I know alot more, I write more, I'm better... but I still have so much more to go.

My only rule of measuring myself is simple. Is this story better than the last one I wrote? That's probably what's kept me going.

My advice.. write when ever you can. Keep a journal, just to write down your thoughts and feelings, dreams, whatever. Try to write something everyday or at least every other day. Can't get to a computer, or maybe you do and you sit an stare at a blank screen? Grab a notebook, go somewhere nice, turn on some music and write long handed. It's so effect, it's amazing.

Don't take the critiques too serious. At best they give you new ideas. A lot of people don't know how to really look for what you need them to be looking for, and so they'll say "Pass" or "Fail" but listen anyway. If you are getting critiques from Hatrack or the Critters Workshop, listen to them.. These people do know their stuff.

Writing is a slow process. I'm still very young, 19, so I don't mind taking the time. I asked myself where I wanted to be as a writer in 5 and ten years, and then worked back from there to "what do I want to do today?"


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jackonus
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Amen UMLG. The only criterion worth worrying about Albatross is whether your writing is getting better with each attempt. When you take on something that's a bit of a stretch and the critiques are particularly scathing, just remember that you took a risk and that you can learn from it.

It's hard to NOT have a lot of ego invested in your stories (your children), but that is exactly what it takes to make the most of the critiques you receive.

BUT, when the story satisfies YOU, don't pay ANY attention to the critiques. Ultimately, it is your story and you can tell it just as well or as poorly as you deem proper.


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Survivor
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And my own suggestion?

Take a book that you really love, that is written by a famous, best selling author, you know, the kind that never even has to submit a manuscript anymore (they don't even have to send out abstracts, so many publishers are sending them story ideas), and tear through it for every flaw you can find. Find those flaws, those little points that could have been just a bit better, and think about how to fix them.

The broad outlines of what makes a story great are relatively simple and very well known. You almost certainly know them. You probably try to follow them. But the details...those are best analyzed from the perspective of finding mistakes. When you learn to fix mistakes in other authors' works, you'll be that much closer to fixing mistakes in your own.

I actually get more experience out of criticizing someone else's story than out of seeing criticism of my own. Actually, I think that most of us do.

And the benefit? Well, aside from the possibility that it might make your writing better, I think that it makes reading more fun. I now have the ability to autocorrect most grammer errors in text, so that I don't even notice them unless I'm specifically trying to proof. And I'm near having word choice autocorrection, so that I always read the word choice that's the most powerful and expressive to me, whatever the author put down. I'm not too close to getting POV correction, badly written POV still pulls me out of a story more often than not...and I'm a longer way from theme and symbolism correction, but I don't even know if that's theoretically possible or even desirable.

Read like you are deciding whether to publish it under your own name, and think of how to make it better. This will help you find and develop your own voice (because you'll always be thinking "how would I say this?"), and it will help you to look at your own writing with an eye to improving it (Card does this trick with his own published works, and then republishes the corrected versions, thus killing three birds with one stone ).


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TheUbiquitousMrLovegrove
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Hey, that's a great a idea, Survivor. I've thought of it before, but never sat down and did it. You've made such a strong point, that now I have to try it...

And, this is off topic, but, I haven't gotten any email from our writer's group in more than a week. Has everyone slacked off, or should I be looking for a problem with my email account?


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Teresa Howard
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I guess I am still considered a novice. I am 44 and trying to make a lifelong dream of writing a reality. Be patient, but keep after it and don't put your dreams on hold. Take it from one who has been there.
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Survivor
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No, the problem is that we're all slackers. You would think that after losing like three out of eight members, one after a single story submission (everyone liked it, but I think that she may have just...who knows?) the remainder would be more dedicated, wouldn't you?

Well, I think that we should be more dedicated, and I'm going to inflict another story on everyone next week unless someone else beats me to it. This I declaim, before the assembled might of the Writer's Forum, to the bearing of blood and fire into your hearts and the wailing of the slain in your ears. I will not permit another Saturday with no story on the table!


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srhowen
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Noivce? I think all writers are novices in one way---there is always something new out there to challenge and to try.

Each artical that I do, each page in a novel---I think is better than the last. If that stopped I think that I would stop writing. Critiques can be hard to take, that's for sure. Believe me I know.

But you can learn from them--and--the take a book and correct it---is a great idea. I was recently reading a book (by a famous Author) and in one chpater she reversed two of the names---now this made it all the way to publication. In another, by a diffrent author, there is so much passive voice that the entire book seems to be passive voice.

One thing to remember---how many people do you want to sell your work to? How many critiquers are in your group? The people at Critters can be darn right cruel sometimes---but how many crits did you get? 5, 6, 7, maybe? A very small percentage of the prespective readers if you sold it. I don't buy every book in the store---and very few of the bestsellers apeal to me.

And one note to think about---a story that I submitted to Critters was totaly trashed---one guy told me to give up wrting and take up one handed knitting because I'd be more useful. And others found many things wrong with the story to the tune of scrap it.

WITHOUT taking their advice on changes---That story has now been published--I bought my new monitor with the check!

So keep writing and improving---

Shawn


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Survivor
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Hmmm...I don't know, all things considered, one handed knitters probably are at least as useful as writers generally...
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srhowen
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cute very cute---that's ok--I do knitt --wiht two hands--like I type. Don't think I want ot give up writing for it though. I'd starve.

Shawn


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Survivor
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Yes, so true. You have to keep writing to support your true life's work, knitting
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srhowen
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:razz: :P well at least knitting will keep me warm---paper doesn't make a very good blanket---unless I'm sleeping on a bench between appartments. Just kidding.

Now lets see Survivor---you wouldn't happen to be a memeber of Critters as well would you?

Shawn ROFL

[This message has been edited by srhowen (edited September 20, 2000).]


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Survivor
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Critters?
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srhowen
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<shurg> Never mind it was suposed to be a joke---you know hint that you were a member of the Critters crit group and the you were the one that sugested knitting.

Never mind it was silly and it was early--well now it's very late--so I am off to bed. It is 1:30 am for me---

Can't think--but then when could I ever.

Shawn


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Jeannette Hill
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I am continually frustrated with my inability to finish a story. I have started maybe five or six in the last few months, have never submitted a second installment on a single one of them, and just submitted yet *another* story! (At least this last one has an outline for the end-- I just have to get it out there).
The best advice I can give is this: if your writing satisfies you, it doesn't matter what critics say. What you write has to come from within, has to be true to you. If you make a lot of money at it, that's great, but would it mean anything? Also, even if you never get to write for a living, at least you will have produced work that makes you happy on the deepest of levels.

Jeannette


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Survivor
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So where does this "Critters" critic's group hang out? Or are we talking about some particular group here on hatrack?
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Albatross
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I love "critters"! I have been through two critique sessions now (one live and one through Kathleen's wonderful workshops <take a bow, Kathleen> ). There is so much in my work that I can't see, because the scene is so fully envisioned in my head. When I read it over, I still see that picture. When the critiquers read it, they have only my words to rely on. In my live session, I got raves, which was really nice. They were picky about little things, and it was really helpful. In the other session (a different story), it became plain to me that I wasn't getting across the story I had in mind and I had to do some massive rewriting. But it was GREAT! I really want to become a good Writer, and I am finding this feedback to be immensely helpful. Thanks to my critique group, if any of you happen to be reading this!

Also, I have every intention of making money from my work sometime. I will not give up until I am good enough for publication. That's part of what drives me. I have a feeling of Vocation with this writing stuff, so there is a sense of urgency to learn as much as I can. I'm making myself stick to a writing schedule, and so far it's paying off.

I still think I'm a Novice, but I'm trying hard to get past Beginner status. I suppose that means I need to get back to writing, then.... <Huff!>

PS How do you know when a story is ready to be pushed out of the nest?


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srhowen
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Critters is a critique group outside of Hatrack—if you write short stories they are pretty good. But for novel chapters you won’t get many crits. You don’t have a group---you submit to the site and your sub gets emailed to the whole group---100+ I think right now—then you do crits in return. I had some good ones and lots of bad ones—i.e. people that just attacked the writer because your mss was sent to them as a low crit count one. The Admin of the site said that my stories were disturbing and he pointed out that novel chapters do get a lot less crits there. Most subs get about 6-10 crits. <shrug> So now I am here.

Second question---when to let the story out of the nest. For me as I go over and over it, rewriting and tinkering I get to a point where I am sick to death of the story. I can’t read it again, I can’t look at it again, I can’t stand the darned thing. Then I put it away for a few weeks and go back and read it. If I still like it it’s ready. In a nut shell—when it is the best story that you can tell, then it’s ready.

I worked on my first novel for two years, spent a year revising, and have now spent a year submitting. It is 325,000 words long and written in all knowing POV. I like the style and I like the way the book feels----but, it is too long. Three times I have come close to selling it. Each time it came back the same---this is just too long. The Editor form DAW even wrote me a nice note with some hints for making it more saleable (shorter) . So now I am rewriting it in limited third---which is shortening it by a lot.

I just finished the first draft of my second completed work. It is 200,000 words long. More saleable---I hope. Now the hard part starts and that’s the rewriting. But I have only been working on this one for 9 months.

I have two other books started—very rough draft form. And another series for the ezine I write for. And I still feel like a novice, every time I open a writing how to book or magazine I learn something new. Every time I get a critique I learn something new. My writing has improved a lot over the last three years since I have access to the internet and a large variety or critique sources. So I think unless you get too full of yourself with success then you are a novice all your life.

Shawn


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Varneshi
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Don't feel bad...I have re-written my first book well over 10 tines (from short story to full blown novel). Each time it got better. I've been writing for well over 20 years now and still feel like a novice. I'm hoping that when my "Group" finally gets together, my work will be looked at by others who might be able to help me with the final product.

I have also noticed that some of the groups are falling apart. Why is this? Can I help? I'm an rabid reader so if you need help write me.

Varn


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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There are several groups that don't have discussion areas on the website--the members prefer to stay in email to conduct their manuscript exchanges and critiques.

As to why the groups seem to be falling apart, I think the main problem is that people sign up for a group not understanding how much of a commitment in time and energy a writing group can be, and when they realize it, they just stop participating.

I am always open for suggestions on how to prevent this kind of thing. It's very hard on those who are willing to give the time and energy to a group.


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Survivor
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Hmmm...dire threats are my favorite resort when things get bad, but somehow they never seem to help all that much in getting people to respond...but they makeme feel better
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Varneshi
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Survivor....I like a big stick myself...LOL...still, if possible. I am willing to help out my fellow writters if I can.
Maybe that is what this group needs. Someone willing to fill in when needed. (Don't get me wrong folks, I can only read so much at one time so don't drop everything on me all at once.)
I can read and assist were I can. Kath, how about it?

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Several thoughts on this:

First of all, there are plenty of people out there willing to comment on stories but not so willing to write stuff that gets commented on in return. (They can dish it out, but they can't take it?)

Having a place where such people can offer their "services" to writers is not necessarily a bad idea, but it's not how Hatrack Writers Groups work. (Some very good editors/wise readers really do provide a useful service to writers, without ever writing any material themselves.)

Hatrack Writers Groups are for the exchange of feedback. The idea is that giving feedback can teach you more about your own writing than receiving it might. (When you receive feedback, it's on a specific story, but when you give feedback, you are applying writing skills and editing skills to any number of stories--and you learn things you can then apply to any of your own stories.)

That said, I want you to know that I have tried other, special groups, and am game to try more.

You will notice a group called "Tried and True" here among the Hatrack Groups. This was one such experiment. It was for people who had been placed in one group after another that had fizzled, and the idea was that people who had stood the test of time should have a chance to get feedback in a less structured format.

People in "Tried and True" posted information about a story they needed feedback on and others in the group were supposed to volunteer to give feedback on it. In turn, those who received feedback were expected to volunteer to give feedback on other members' stories.

It worked for a while, and then it, too, fizzled. You have to go back quite a ways to find any postings in that group.

I am willing to try that again, if there is interest. But people will have to abide by the rules (if you want to know what they are, go to the beginning of Tried and True and read them).

Email me (don't post here) if you are interested.


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Varneshi
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I will be sending my work in for review....In fact I would like to start now....(he said slyly)...but I will wait my turn.I believe that this will help me in many ways that I can't get through other,more, acidemic areas.And I'm willing to take my lumps bumps and anything else might come my way.

Kathleen I couldn't find the TRIED AND TRUE that you were talking about. Can you E-Mail me...please....

Varn


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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TRIED AND TRUE is right after WRITING CLASS which is right after OPEN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WRITING on the list of discussion areas in the Writers Forum.

If you are at http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/cgi/Ultimate.cgi
you should be able to see it listed there.


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Varneshi
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Found it when I got home, thanks Kathleen. Sounds good to me.
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starrman
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well, isn't this depressing? This is fine for all of you "oldies" here, but what about us 14 year olds? I'm just starting to write and I think that this is just a little descouraging.

Salaam

JB


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jackonus
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Don't get discouraged. Part of the reason why many of us are here is that we missed the opportunity to use teachers and fellow classmates to be our critics. You have the opportunity now. That is not to exclude you from a group like this (or writers groups in general), but to recognize that you have options that aren't open to us and we might wish they were. I, for instance, would have to pay real money to take a worthwhile writing class and at that, my job responsibilities would end up getting in the way of regular class attendance.

Then, each year on my birthday, I count how many hairs are left and how many more inches there are on my waistline and worry that I'll never get the accolades that are my due from the reading public. Now THAT's discouraging.

Going to the record stores' cut out bins to find your favorite music. That's discouraging too.

So take heart! It only gets more discouraging after this... No wait! Remember to make full use of the resources you DO have as opposed to worrying about the ones you don't have. Yep, that's it!


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Varneshi
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I agree with you...starrman don't give up....use the teachers you have for your writing classes...practice, practice, practice! That's how I started. You should also consider asking your friends if they would like to work together on a project or story line. The movie "Bucaroo Bonzi" is based on a piece of work my friends and I worked on when we were young...(He said with a sigh). The story line is changed a little bit but its our work. (We never had it copywrited so the main body of work was stolen from us.) We called the work "The Dinamic Seven" or D7 for short.

Well that's old news. Still, give it a try. You never know what can be done.

Varn


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Shasta
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As for being a novice... well... the day any artist stops learning is the day they are no longer an artist.

Don't title yourself. When you get the urge to write - do it. Don't think "someone better will do this, I'm not good at this..." You are all good at what you do - just as you will all change and grow.

It's life.

People may not like what you write and may say, "go knit something pretty, darlin'" smile, nod... and go write a story about _them_ knitting something.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here (and I'm a writer, you'd think I'd stop digressing) <--- digression. ahem. The point is that the only novice writers are those who can't really make a sentence into a thought. Once you can make a sentence and string a few together to get an idea - you're a writer.

Any levels after that are only controlled by the Dungeon Master and no one's seen him in years.

[This message has been edited by Shasta (edited October 09, 2000).]


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Survivor
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Like that part of the Sistine Chapel where Michalangelo painted one of his critics getting his nuts bit off by a big snake?
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