Today’s guest blogger is Gavin Cramblet (aka Chro) from a blogsite we like called Journey of the Scribe. Recently, Gavin won the bid for a free critiquing session with novelist Brenda Novak, and he agreed to share his experience with us.
Our sincere thanks to Gavin for taking the time out to blog with us this week. Enjoy!
While I was growing up, I noticed one glaring difference between me and my three siblings: I actually listened to my father. While he was droning on about topics we couldn’t care less about, like civil war battles or the joys of investing, my siblings would zone out, while I absorbed every word, as much as it bored me. With my overactive writer’s imagination, I’m a perfect candidate for daydreaming, and yet I can’t help but listen to people. This is why I can’t write while the TV is on: I have to listen to the characters on screen, even if it’s an inane family sitcom that kills 100 brain cells per minute.
Listening is an important skill as a writer, and not just because you have to be perceptive in order to find inspiration for your works. To have any hope of publication, you must admit that other people in the world do not think the same way you do. Your baby will be perceived by a wide variety of readers, and you must appeal to those readers, even the idiots who don’t understand your artistic vision. This is why we have critique groups and beta readers: so that we can absorb the opinions of those mysterious ‘other people’ and give our works more mass appeal.
But listening to other opinions is hard, because a writer’s instinctive reaction is to defend their work, and tell the critic they’re wrong. For example, Jodi Meadows recently spent two weeks giving out personalized letters to anyone who was rejected by the Lori Perkins Literary Agency. For anyone who’s received a frustratingly useless form rejection in the mail, this was a great offer. Naturally, most people were grateful. But others trashed her online, claiming that her advice was vague, ill-informed, or flat out wrong.
The official term for such people is ‘tools’.