OMG – am just slightly excited, and nervous, that I am taking part in a Secret Agent Writing Contest on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/p/secret-agent.html If you don’t already know of this blog, it’s worth having a look – I just found out about it recently (I’m usually way behind everyone else) – and it seems to be a really supportive and active writing community providing useful advice and positive vibes – which always come in handy! 🙂
For the contest entrants have to submit the first 250 words of a manuscript. Only 250 words but it feels as if I’m laying my whole soul out there for comment. I don’t know how my work will go down (I’ve submitted the first letter from Josie in High-Heels And Slippers which opens the book) but I’m trying to tell myself to take it on the chin and use all feedback as a way to move forward, as I have done before. We’ll see what happens…
I have to say that accepting criticism and feedback has been a hugely helpful, though not always easy, part of the steep writing learning curve for me. It started by attending a critique group three years ago, trembling as I read my work aloud and then listening red-faced as people I hardly knew, commented on what I’d written.
Over a year ago, I took part in an ebay auction and paid a substantial amount (which went to a charity) for an experienced agent’s critique. Her comments arrived by email on Christmas Eve and knocked me for six! She had some extremely encouraging things to say but also some criticisms – I found myself focussing on those and my spirits slumped. I fell out of love with my book and with writing in general. But after processing it for a while, seeking advice from my writing group who had now become dear and trusted friends, I came to see that a lot of what she said was valid and extremely valuable. I took a deep breath, sucked my in gut and got to work revising.
I think (hope!) that I came out with much better book after that and now I am extremely grateful for that initial agent feedback.
It led me to take part in another blog contest which to my utter joy and surprise led to a full manuscript request! Oh the high of knowing that maybe I was onto something, that I wasn’t being a complete fool dedicating so much of my time to this strange occupation that is writing.
I still don’t have an agent contract – oh the illusive contract – but I feel that if I can keep putting my work out there for feedback and take it all in, I’m hopefully, getting closer to one.
So I guess that’s the point – to keep going and continue to learn – and I suppose that’s handy for lots of things in life, not just writing! 🙂