Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: critique

Being critiqued

A Hinkley Buzzard comes in for a landing.

They’re all coming back home to roost.

Somewhat like the buzzards returning to Hinkley, Ohio (albeit several weeks later–I can’t believe I missed Buzzard Day, which was March 15), my manuscripts are slowly returning from my beta-readers.

sent drafts of my science fiction novel What’s Bred in the Bone out in March, to a collection of willing souls. Some are published writers, some are working-on-being-published writers, some are much-prized living embodiments of my “target audience,” and some are simply friends who’ve been hearing me talk about “the book I’m writing” for years, and were curious. A few are even friends of the volunteers, who became interested.

Some wanted e-book format, some wanted Word documents, some PDFs, and a few wanted hard copies, which I put in binders with a quick-and-dirty cover so they’d be quickly able to distinguish what side was “up.”

One and all, I deeply appreciate the time they’ve spent reading my manuscript and answering my questions. Not all have reported back in, yet, but I’ve begun reading the comments of those who’ve finished. They’ve proved quite interesting, and in many cases very helpful.

I’m a veteran of several decades’ worth of writers’ groups and critique partnerships, so I know how to compartmentalize (I learned that studying journalism!). It’s still sometimes a challenge not to take it personally, but the writer with a tender ego is a writer afraid to grow.

I also know how to evaluate. Not all critiques are equally valid. Some seem to come straight out of left field. Some are internally contradictory. Oh, but then there are those other ones, the ones that hit you dead-center, with a deeply resonant, “Oh, man, s/he’s right!”

Very few people will be able to resist at least a few little nitpicks, and there’s almost always an “outlier,” someone who gives such radically different feedback from what everybody else said that you wonder “what manuscript were they reading?”

At the end of the day, the best a writer can do is tell her story as well as she is able at the time, read or listen to every critique with an open mind and her heart safely tucked in a padded box somewhere, then make the changes that won’t let her ignore them. And after that, MOVE ON.

IMAGES: Many thanks to the “Haglund’s Heel” Blog, for the nice photo of the Hinkley buzzard; to Scribendi, via Pinterest, for the quote image from H. G. Wells; and to Pinterest again, for the “Read-Write-Revise-Eat-Sleep-Repeat” image (no other associated link still seems to work). I took the photo of my pile of manuscript printouts in recycled binders. Please feel free to use it if you like, but have the grace to give an attribution and a link back to this post. Thanks!

The next battle

The Artdog Image of Interest

If you’re tired of Na-No-Wri-Mo posts, I’m sorry–gonna inflict at least one more on you. Because once you get to a certain point in your writing, it’s time to–GASP!–show it to someone else!! It’s pretty scary, because even after all that work, it’s inevitable that it’s not perfect.

Gotta be done. Find someone you trust and hand it over. It’s What Has to Happen Next, on the writer’s journey. Good luck!

IMAGE: Once again, I’m grateful to the wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her web comic “Will Write For Chocolate,” for this rueful look at the truth of a writer’s life.

Great Evening With the InterUrban ArtHouse

This is a reblog of a popular post from my Artdog Observations blog. It was originally published on May 23, 2013.

As I described in last week’s post, a good critique can be valuable and energizing thing for an artist.

2013 05 01-01 I showed my work at Critique Night
Here’s my presentation at the InterUrban ArtHouse‘s ArtMatters Critique Night.  My audience includes, L-R: fellow artists Lori Sohl, Dora Agbas, Adam Finkelston, and Nicole Emanuel. Nicole founded the InterUrban ArtHouse.

I deeply value the insights of a weekly gathering of artist friends which we simply call Art Group.  I also had an opportunity recently to participate in the first-ever ArtMatters Critique Night, conducted May 1, 2013 by the InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park, KS.

 2013 05 01-07 Elizabeth Berkshire's presentation
Elizabeth Berkshire’s paintings are inspired by metal surfaces and rust textures. Her viewers, L-R, are sculptor Deron Dixon, JCCC’s Larry Thomas, Lori, Dora, me, and Adam, as above.
This Critique Night was held at a quaint, small-group gathering place called the Vintage House, and artists went through a process of submitting samples of work and applying to be invited.
2013 05 01-29 Larry Thomas comments on Deron Dixon's work
L-R: That’s me (red sweater) lurking in the background, listening to Larry Thomas discussing Deron Dixon‘s sculptu.
 2013 05 01-23 Kelly Seward comments on Linda Jurkiewicz's work
Kelly Seward comments on Linda Jurkiewicz’s artistic quilts.  Also visible L-R: DeronJerry Stogsdill, LarryAlex Hamil, me, the quilter herself, and (far R) Nicole.
 2013 05 01-31 Linda Seiner gives her presentation
Linda Seiner discusses her torn-paper paintings, while Larry and Lori look on at R.
 2013 05 01-10 Alex Hamil's presentation
Alex Hamil answers a question about his work, while (L-R) Lori, Dora, and I look on. You can see some of Dora’s work in the background at left and some of Elizabeth’s in the background at right.

Ten of us were included in the first Critique Night, while two designated experts, Larry Thomas, chair of the Johnson County Community College Fine Arts Department, and Kelly Seward, Director of Business Programs for ArtsKC, took the lead in each discussion.  InterUrban ArtHouse founder Nicole Emanuel was originally planning to offer comments as well, but a scheduling difficulty kept her away until the latter part of the event.

I recognized the work of Alex and Linda, as having also been displayed at the Arti Gras show, which I blogged about in February.

Followup notes:

the InterUrban ArtHouse has grown and expanded its mission since this article was originally written. Read more about its current scope on its website

Jerry Stogstill has taken a detour from his fascinating photography since I wrote this post in 2013. He is now a candidate to become the Kansas Representative of District 7, in an effort to change the current suicidal course of the Kansas Legislature. I love his art, but I also support his platform.

IMAGE CREDITS: I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the InterUrban ArtHouse and its Facebook Page, and to the multi-talented Nick Carswell, for the photos used in this post.  THANK YOU!

The value of a good critique

This is a reblog of a popular post from my Artdog Observations blog. It was originally published on May 16, 2013.

In your creative life, how often do you seek out an honest and knowledgeable critique? 

Most artists are vulnerable creatures.  We make up new things out of assorted sources, imbue them with our personal vision, and then place them out into the harsh glare of an uncaring and often hypercritical world. To think of seeking a critique is always somewhat fraught with pain and fear.

I present my work to the group at the InterUrban ArtHouses ArtMatters Critique Night on May 1, 2013 at the Vintage House in Overland Park, KS.

We do the best we can, but many times we just can’t figure out (or don’t realize we haven’t figured out) the Ultimate Best Possible Solution to the creative problem we have decided to tackle.

We can’t “see the forest for the trees,” because we are too close to the subject.  In my dog-show circuit days, we called that being “kennel blind”: you can see the problems with other people’s dogs, but you are blind to the problems in your own dogs.

Recently I have participated in several, extremely helpful critique sessions, focused on either my artwork or a science fiction novel I am writing. Different fields, different media, and from different sources. The photo above is from a notable recent evening (more to come).

But in each case I not only discovered solutions to problems I’d been having with the work in question—I  also became highly energized to leap back into the work with even more focus than before.  

Followup note: the InterUrban ArtHouse has grown and expanded its mission since this article was originally written. Read more about its current scope on its website.

IMAGE:I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the InterUrban ArtHouse and its Facebook Page, and to the multi-talented Nick Carswell, for the photo of my paper sculpture presentation at the ArtMatters Critique Night.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén