Monday, April 23, 2012

Mediocre

I believe in honesty. And if an aspiring writer (such as myself) has a blog, then they ought to be honest with it. The journey I’m on right now has taken a sorrowful turn.

I received word that I didn’t make the second round in the Genesis contest. It’s a sad thing, but not a terribly crushing thing. It’s a Christian contest and my 500 word synopsis and first 15 pages did not scream Christianity, so I shouldn’t be terribly shocked by this. (Actually, it might make a red-herring plea for atheism or agnosticism, but I digress.)

Not making round 2 was sad, but nothing prepared me to receive my three scores. Out of 100 possible points, I earned 55, 56 and 60. Each category in the judging was given a minimum score of 1 point and a maximum of 5 points. This means that in an average category like Point of View, Showing/Telling, Inspirational Elements, Dialogue, etc. I received a score of 2 or 3. A 3 means average and off to a good start. A 2 means below average/major revisions needed.

And given the consistency of my scores, this means I’m at most a mediocre writer and at worst a rather poor one.

It has not been a good week.

See, I’m not a stranger to getting criticism. I’ve handed my work out to friends. I’ve gotten multiple paid critiques. Goodness, I’m even in a critique group. And yet all of my other responses have been positive. Generally, people like my work. These critiques could not be more opposite.

My writing didn’t hold their attention. My characters weren’t distinct from one another. I use too much telling. I could go on, but do we really need to rehash how awful I am? Probably not. Ugh, I’ve never gotten a response that left me so dejected.

Worst of all, the negativity is starting to take root in me. I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I’m really a pathetic excuse for a writer and no one has told me. Maybe someone should have pulled me aside at some point and said, “Look, you’ve got a great imagination. But this just isn’t for you.” Maybe no one has had the heart to tell me that there’s an inside joke—a real laughingstock—and it’s me.

I really hope those things aren’t true, but doubt keeps growing in my heart. I know writing is my life’s calling. But for right now, I have a little imp in my mind. He’s telling me to quit, that there’s no point in writing a story that no one will want to read. He’s fighting me every time I pick up a pen or sit at my keyboard.

On the same day that I received the news about Genesis, my stargazer lilies were accidentally weed wacked. Our neighbor, out of the kindness in his heart, has offered to mow our lawn this spring and summer. He also trims the side of the house. My lilies were coming up and really looking healthy. But they hadn’t bloomed yet and he didn’t know that they were flowers. So while he was intending to be kind and do me a favor, my lilies were cut down before they could bloom.

They’re supposed to come back next year, but there won’t be any stargazers this summer.

4 comments:

  1. We (your friends from church) actually have a private Facebook group for making fun of your writing. We also meet monthly for dramatic readings and smoked ribs.

    Stop being paranoid! You are an awesome writer! Not to make any excuses, but writing contests are stupid anyway. The only contest I'd put much stock in is getting published and selling the most copies.

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    1. Thanks, bdeck. When you get back to the QC, maybe I can go to one of those dramatic readings. Get some humor knocked into me.

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  2. Bull. Freakin'. Crap. If your Genesis entry was anything like the short story about Ramsey below, you, my dear, are an awesome writer. Mediocre, nothing! I was late to pick up my daughter (now I'm REALLY late), but I had to keep reading, and reading, and reading. In case Andrew, Adam, and Ben are too shy to say it, you have a crazy unique writer's voice. You made your MC likeable, also. I could go on, but my daughter may be in tears when I finally get there to pick her up. ;) Have a great day. And chin up. You'll have your day!

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    1. Awww, thank you, Bethany! I'm so glad you liked Ramsey. She was really fun to write. Adam, Andrew and Ben are fantastic. I couldn't ask for more honest and encouraging critique partners.

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