Thursday, January 16, 2014

Perspective Post

Let's face it:

I'm an egotistical person.

We all are in some sort of aspect in our lives, and guess where I'm proud, stubborn, mule-headed, and unmoving?  In my writing.

I dislike it when people try to give me pointers on my writing.  I stiffen and think, Well, that's just my style, and Dude, I'm a good writer, but I guess you don't have the eyes to see that.

My egotisticalness was proclaimed in the past twenty-four hours, when I was hit by the truth of a blog post and an e-mail that stated exactly what was wrong (and right) with a hundred words of my writing.  

Let me start from the beginning.

I'm a daily viewer on the site Go Teen Writers.  Go Teen Writers, along with posting the almost-daily tidbit on how to write a strong story.  They also host contests.  If you've gone on it recently, you'll know they held a contest, the 100-word contest.  

For further information, click here.  

^^ Please read the above link for proper context of my story.

Excited, I entered.  I came up with a couple of ideas to work with the first sentence, but the one I finally decided on was as follows:

Every word he said was a lie.
He knew it, and his brother--who’d gotten him into this mess--knew it. The good thing was, nobody else in their new hometown did.
As their neighbors’ door swung open, he found himself facing a blond teenage girl. A slow smile spread across his face. Girls were always suckers for the accent.
This would be a cinch.
Grooming his voice into a careful Southern twang, he said, “Hey, I’m Ash, y’all’s new neighbor. Just wanted to say hey!”
The girl glared at him for a long moment, then slammed the door in his face.
Maybe not.

I thought it was a good one.  (Let me rephrase that:  I thought it was an excellent one).  I thought it would be enough to final in the contest.  I thought it was a sure winner.  Why?

My on-paper reasoning for this pride was that had good elements...and the fact that I'd (supposedly) covered some of the points Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill had made in their book Go Teen Writers.

  My real reasoning?  I thought that the entry didn't look like I was a gawky, awkward beginning writer.  I felt like that was all that truly mattered--not looking amateur.  I thought that, most likely, my competitiors would be--*whispers the word*--mediocre.

Oh, really, girl?  *Speaking to self*  Because you just got owned by 45 other writers!

I waited eagerly on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for the e-mail saying that I was a finalist.  

Then I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling in my stomach and scrolled through the feed under the "Blogs I Follow" part of Google Blogger.  Well, guess what?

They'd announced the list of finalists on Go Teen Writers.  And "Rcubed" was not on that list.

I sat frozen in my chair for one long moment.  I couldn't move.  My light-filled daydreams and castles in the air came crashing down.  I wasn't a finalist.  That long list of names--every single one of them was better at writing than I was.  

Every single one of them.

Part of my pride problem is the fact that my sin-filled heart cannot understand the meaning of  "There are other kids like you who want to be writers, Rcubed" and "There are other people who are actually better at writing than you are, Rcubed."

It's my dumb old selfish little being that says, You're an awesome writer, and the awesomest there is.

I'm not.

Let us face it together, with the proverbial sunset at our backs: I am not the best writer there is.  I am not even close to being the best writer there is.  Out of all the people who actually want to write, I probably rank near the bottom.  

You might be thinking that I'm freaking out over something as insignificant as a 100-word contest.  No, I'm not freaking out.  I did that a couple hours ago, then pulled myself together and told myself that it was a 100-word contest.

But I've learned, subconsciously contemplating in the past couple hours...Just because I like writing down my thoughts and feelings and ideas doesn't mean I'm a good writer.  Just because I enjoy stringing words together doesn't make me a good writer.  *Think about that.

Also, I don't come up with the willpower to write for multiple blogs and a novel.  It's God, everybody.  God who allows me to breathe and write and type all of this up.  It's God who's letting me do this.  Who cares about not finalling in a 100-word contest when one considers God's glorious plan to redeem mankind?  It's God, guys.  Not me.

I'd imagined a victory blog post, announcing *surprise, surprise* that I'd finalled in a contest, actually made something of myself out in the big wide world of writing!

Haha, no.  I'm not going to do a victory post, a pity post, or a those-Go-Teen-Writers-bloggers-don't-stinking-know-what-they're-talking-about post.  This is a perspective post.

Perspective item number one:  There are other writers out there, Rcubed.  Just face it.  And let's also say that many, many, many of them are better than you are.

Perspective item number two: You did not make yourself have the ability to write, Rcubed.  God did, so He gets all the credit.  Not you.

Perspective item number three: Don't tear yourself out just because you didn't final, Rcubed.  This isn't the end of your writing career.  (I felt like it was for a couple of hours).  See, look at the feedback Mrs. Stephanie Morrill sent you!  How helpful is that?!  It's all part of their Go Teen Writers thingamabobber!

Your feedback:
2, 8, 12, and 14

Feedback form for Go Teen Writers 100+ Word Contests
Judges have highlighted the feedback that applies to you and your entry.
1. Your premise is intriguing.9. The flow of this entry feels off. I think there’s too much: (Judges please specify)
  • Description
  • Dialogue
  • Internal monologue
  • Action
2. This is a character I would want to read about.10. You’re relying too heavily on adverbs, adjectives, or quantifying words (such as “very” or “little”). Try picking stronger nouns and verbs. Plus it’ll keep your word count down!
3. Great, natural dialogue.11. You’re using a lot of dialogue tags (he said, he exclaimed, etc.) Try using more action beats. Here’s more information on action beats and dialogue tags.
4. Your descriptions are very good.12. The pacing in this piece feels rushed. The story is unfolding too quickly.
5. You have a strong, natural voice.13. This reads more like a summary of events than it does the opening of a story. Find ways to express these things in action, dialogue, or description.
6. Your writing is very smooth and easy to read.14. You’re sometimes telling the story when you could be showing it. (Here’s a link to help explain telling vs. showing in more detail.)
7. This entry is exceptionally creative.15. There are some POV inconsistencies in your entry. (Here’s a link to help explain POV.)
8. You ended in a very good spot - I would definitely keep reading.16. There’s a lot of passive writing in this entry (as opposed to an active sentence structure. See here for a longer explanation of passive vs. active writing.)
17. You’re dropping in too much backstory too quickly. (Here’s a link that talks about fitting backstory into your story.)
18. Your character’s tone or feelings or reactions don’t quite match the action going on.
19. I felt confused by what was happening, so it was tough to connect with your story world.
20. Some of your dialogue feels stiff or unnatural. (Here’s a link to some helpful posts about writing good dialogue.)
21. There are multiple grammar, spelling, and/or typos in your entry.
22. There are repetitive thoughts or words in this entry.
You had an interesting character.  You engaged the reader.  That is something, Rcubed.  That is honestly, seriously something.

And so you had a couple speed bumps--in your eagerness to engage your reader, you caused the events to unfold too quickly.  And you didn't follow their very helpful blog post, Rcubed, when they told you to show it, not tell it.

You did OK, Rcubed.  You did OK for your first contest.

Perspective item number four: Your pride was getting out of hand, Rcubed.  It honestly, truly was.  You knew it was hidden there all along.  But now this little ditch in the road just brought the pride out in the open.  Now, you have to face it and say that this is a good wake-up call.  It's much like a bucket of ice water when you're sleep-clogged--it doesn't harm you, but it leaves you with a wet reminder.  You had pride, and you had a little fall.  Thank goodness it wasn't a truly tragic fall, where it costs you something.  No, this is just a little popup ad from God telling you that you aren't all that.  So don't pretend to be.  

Take this reminder, Rcubed, so you don't have to truly suffer a fall later.

Perspective item number five: You should really join a writing critique group like they listed in the Go Teen Writers book.  It would really help, and also really remind you that you're just a little bitty writer in a great big writing world.  

Perspective item number six: You're a writer, Rcubed.  Even if this little contest might have jarred you, don't get out of your rhythm.  Instead, work harder than ever because of this alarm.  Work on showing, not telling.  Look at everything they said with a critical eye.  Don't be shy about letting other people wear out their red pencils over your manuscript.  Instead, think that this is all just part of the learning experience of a writer.  Nobody's a good writer when they first start out.

Perspective item number seven: Thank God that you didn't final.  If you had, it wouldn't have been easy getting your pride down to an easy level.

This is a long post over a little 100-word contest, but it's not just a hundred-word contest.  It's more than that.  It's a little bling-bling! reminder that I need to get moving.  That I need to accept advice.  That I need to learn.  

Thank You, God :)

<3, Rcubed

1 comment:

  1. Was very blessed by your humility and the way you processed disappointments in the light of your identity in Christ! Press on with your wonderful writing!!