20 February 2010

Crafty Critique Partner Wanted--Honesty (w/Compassion) a Must

Why do I feel like I'm on one of those dating sites looking for that special partner/buddy?


Last fall, I had the honor of being a presenter at the 2009 SCBWI-OK conference in September.

Listening to Cynthea Liu and Tami Sauter´s presentation on Revision 4-1-1 was rewarding, and this old dog learned a few new tricks, as always.

However, I was quite jealous of the critique partner relationship so evident between the two. So, I´ve decided to advertise for my own special critique buddy.

Subscribing to the principle that honesty without compassion is cruelty, anyone who is considering applying for the job should know that I have two ultimate goals as a writer: to produce the best literature I can and to help others produce the best literature they can.

Mike McQuay was my writing mentor in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He died of a heart attack in 1995. He helped me to focus my talents as a writer. The best critique he gave was about a short story of which I was quite proud. I was proud of my plot, my cleverness of word play, and the ingenious way in which I ended the story. I just knew Mike would tell me that he had contacted his agent and publisher about what a writing genius I was.

"This is shit," Mike said when he gave me back my story. "You either need to get serious about writing as a career, or just give it up."

I went home and cried. I also got quite pissed off at his bluntness (anybody who knew Mike will remember he came across as quite arrogant and a bit insensitive).

So, through the tears and the bludgeoned ego, I wrote another story. I´d prove to that S.O.B. I could write a well-crafted story, and then I´d tell him to cram his story course up his arse.

Two weeks later, Mike handed back my short story and said, "Damn. I wish I´d written that."

I was quite humbled indeed. I didn´t punch him like I wanted to do originally. I just took my short story, sat back down, and then took notes of his lecture for that evening.

Don´t worry: if you apply for the job and pass the interview, I won´t be as blunt as Mike. I will, however, be compassionately honest in both praise and suggestions, and I’d expect nothing less in return. After all: getting your work and my work PUBLISHED isn’t everything—it’s the ONLY THING!

So, here´s my ad for a critique partner:

Young Adult Speculative Fiction writer in need of critique partner--doesn´t have to be a Spec Fic writer or a published author--just someone with a passion for the art and craft of story telling--with emphasis on CRAFT.

Writing samples upon request and please send samples of your best writing.

I´m a 27-year veteran high school and college English teacher with master´s work in creative writing I´ve had 14 YA novels published by Scholastic and Simon and Schuster, but that doesn´t mean I´ve arrived by any ways or means.

Please respond to Talewright@GMail.com

Thank you.

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