FAILURE EQUALS SUCCESS?

pen and inkI can hear the wheels in your head screeching. What trick is this? Who would want failure? To give you a better picture, Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

In my Georgia Romance Writers Group, we have a program that honors rejection letters and at the end of the year, the writer with the most rejections receives a prize. What does this mean to writers? You are busy writing and submitting your stories/novels. You are continuing to do this in an attempt to get published. Courage? You’d better believe it. Embarrassed? Why? You are working hard, getting rejected, and you keep writing and submitting and  rejected until that special letter or phone call comes in…we want you to send the FULL manuscript…this little statement has made all the hard work worthwhile. Still, it is not a done deal. So, you keep writing and writing and submitting and submitting. As a writer, this is the blood that flows through our veins and keeps us going. Is this failure? It depends on how a person looks at the situation and themselves. This could happen to anyone, not just writers.

You apply for a position and feel confident about the interview. A week or two goes by and you hear nothing. So you wait a few more days before you make the call. You learn another person, more qualified, has been hired. Do you stop looking at the employment ads or do you keep sending in applications. The FAILURE would stop, but SUCCESS keeps reading the want-ads. However, instead of answering a bunch of employment advertisements, you list your qualifications, past employment history, make certain these are what the position involves, and be prepared. This is working from the success side.

As writers, we are in the same position. We are told it will be a rough ride to publication, and yet we find ourselves sending query letters to agents who do not represent our genre or maybe we hope they overlook this area. Wrong. One of the first things we learn…read the rules and qualifications of the agent and see if your work fits the categories.

As you proceed in your search, no matter what area, take a good look at your skills. Are you familiar with new technology? Do you need to brush up on your computer skills? How long has it been since you attended any conferences or meetings? Do you belong to any networking areas, a book club, or groups in your church or neighborhood? Do you volunteer for any events? These are avenues of successful people. Failure is sometimes being lazy and hoping you’ll get recognized. Success is taking your measurements and making certain you update these often.

Failure is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of thinking, being, and doing. Setbacks are sure to come along the roads you travel, but you can handle a detour. Sometimes they are as important as a straight road.

Happy Journeys.  Happy Detours.  Happy Writing.

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A SIMPLE CRITIQUE PROCESS

ImageOkay, you are now in a critique group and what’s next? There should be a simple process of critiquing for the group. Here are a few to consider:

RULES OF CRITIQUING

(1) Never critique the author. Always critique the work. (2) Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong. (3) You do not have to like a story to give it a critique. (4) Real people write and real people have feelings.

RULES FOR BEING CRITIQUED

(1) Listen. The person speaking has take time to read your work and wants to help you find ways to make it better. (2) Wait until everyone has finished their critique before making any comments. (3) Do not rebut. Explain only if necessary. (4) Take notes. (5) Everything can be improved. (6) Be willing to make changes only if YOU think it would enhance your store. Remember you are the author.

CHECKLIST – THINGS TO LOOK FOR

Here is a list and in my next blog, I will go into detail: PLOT- CHARACTERS – ACTION – DIALOGUE – BACKGROUND – OVERALL STORY – THEME – GRAMMAR – DETAILS – SPELLING – WORD CHOICE – WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THE PIECE – WHAT CAUSED PROBLEMS AND WHY – FINAL COMMENTS

You can go into as much or as little detail as you would like or listen to what the author wanted critiqued. Sometimes, the author will ask for certain points in their story critiqued. Then you know what to look for and not a general critique.

Now you begin your work for critiquing: (1) Read one story at a time, as if it was the only story you needed to critique. (2) Write down your impressions as a reader. Was the story captivating? Did you enjoy reading it? Did the story hook you at the beginning? (3) Try to give feedback on what could be changed. Identify the weaknesses and offer some constructive advise to the author that might lead to improvements in the story. (4) Give examples of improvements, if possible. (5) Praise. We all need encouragement and pats on the back to keep plodding ahead. (6) Identify the strengths in the story. (7) Focus on the story, not the author. (8) Critique as you want to be critiqued.

This should get you started and points to ponder.