For some time now I have wished for a Beta/Critique partner who would read, guide and give gentle positive feedback on my work. When I joined the Children’s Book Hub run by Emma, I had hoped to find someone whom I could trust to do this. My problem is I am too nervous to ask and procrastinate even more, hoping that someone will just simply, offer to help. Yes I’m one of those that needs that kick-in-the-pants motivation, and I know, once I am working with someone, will wonder what the heck I was so nervous about.
At a recent SCBWI meeting the topic was “Show and Tell”. Ah yes, and guess who was quaking at the knees on seeing that heading, but a second email asking if I would like to talk about my recent visit to LA for the 40th Summer SCBWI Conference was like a God send, someone must be watching over me, I thought. So I trotted along with my notes and because of the cold and pouring rain not many turned up. Another blessing! We all managed to sit around one table and after a cup of coffee I was first up to speak. They found it interesting and even some took notes. Next was the “Show and Tell” and I realised that I was in the presence of published authors, bringing along their third or fourth work in progress. Of the three that read their work out, two were picture book writers. Feedback was gentle, thoughtful, and a couple of things were picked up which the writers themselves were grateful for. Another was also worried at first about a title on her soon to be released book that had been changed, but we all agreed on the new title, and she happily showed us some prints from her publisher, of what a couple of the pages would look like. I found this interesting and was pleased to be able to, look in, so to speak, on such a feedback group, it gave me more confidence and yes, maybe I will contribute next time there is a “Show and Tell”.
Sometimes our confidence gets knocked sideways. Mine did recently and while there was a no-holds-bar approach to comments made, there were no specifics either. On Casey McCormick’s “Literary Rambles” Blog, Laura Lascarso discusses wooing writers. She talks about constructive critisicm being about asking questions, giving specific examples of what isn’t working. Praise is also very important not so much to stroke the ego (lord knows I have no idea where mine is, didn‘t know if I owned one), but to point out what is working. It’s important to know what to keep as well as what to fix.
The Writeoncon online conference I joined recently was a wonderful experience with live forums, and I even shocked myself in submitting a couple of pieces of work, and I was grateful to receive such constructive feedback. It seemed over all too quick.
By coincidence on Rachel Harris’ Blog, “Rach Writes” she is offering a wonderful chance for writers to meet and match themselves with Beta and Critique partners, this month. My finger poised on the keyboard to add my name and details to the list but that little yellow chicken raised its head again and I simply closed the laptop. Maybe someone will find their way here and extend a helping hand, I hope so.