This has felt like the longest week ever, but I wanted to get this up before my brain shut down completely.
Week 4 for PP’s 12 week challenge talks about 3 difficulties we have as writers. After writing them down, we send a piece of work to our mentor, and have them critique the piece.
Okay, here’s how it went…
I didn’t manage to come up with any real difficulties other than a concern that my female characters aren’t strong enough. I did send Hy (it’s boob day by the way so go check it out) a section from a piece I’m hoping to do… Something with? Anyway, Hy had nice things to say so definitely encouraged to continue editing whenever I have a stretch of time off from work and am not exhausted.
As for how I felt? Having someone critique my work makes me nervous. If I can’t thicken up my skin, I won’t survive though. The more I do it, the better I get at taking it. I mean, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Here’s what I sent her:
An unedited section from the beginning of Hunter’s Gazelle
Driving up to the place made her realize what a great hand life dealt to Hunter. He lived a three-story manor on the opposite side of town in a neighborhood suited for CEOs of huge companies. The long driveway led up to a house that was three times as large as hers and had to have a live-in staff. To the left of the house was an illuminated garden that she could picture in vibrant colors in the daylight. Gazelle would lay money that he had a white gazebo with a pond somewhere in the back complete with geese and ducks. Probably took his tea and crumpets back there on warm summer days.
As she pulled in, a valet came around to help her out of the car. Her ratty Mazda looked out-of-place behind the row of Chrysler 300s and Lincoln MKZs. If she blinked, it would turn into a pumpkin right in front of her.
Gazelle hovered on the sidewalk reconsidering her decision to show up. Perhaps wearing the strapless black sheath dress wasn’t the best move on her part. Considering the colors some of the women had on, her knee-length ensemble came across as rather plain. It hugged her curves and gave her a lush appearance, but she’d be a dandelion in a field of lilies. A sexy dandelion, but a dandelion nonetheless.
“You’re being too damn hard on yourself, Gazelle.” She smoothed her dress down and eyed the white oak door. “I can do this. He’s moved on and I need to show him that I’ve moved on, too.”
Except she hadn’t, but she was here to pretend she had so that maybe she really would move on. Straightening her shoulders, she gathered her courage and marched up to the door. A white-haired man opened the door right as she raised her hand to knock. From his stoic expression, long-tailed black jacket, white shirt, and white gloves, Gazelle assumed he was the butler. She resisted the urge to muse his hair.
The man bowed as he stepped aside, and then raised a hand for her to move into the hall. Stepping into the house, she felt Hunter’s presence all around her. Strangeness engulfed her at being so near to him, the setting almost intimate. Even in the entrance, the decorations made her think of him; dark woods, clean lines, neutral wall colors, and photos with exotic scenery filled the space. And his smell surrounded her, a spicy, masculine smell that was distinctly Hunter.
She followed the sounds of the party down the dark wood-paneled hallway into a large living room. Ballroom was a more accurate assessment with its high ceiling and wooden floor. The number of people was overwhelming even in a room that size. Apparently he’d invited half of town to his party.
The atmosphere dripped with the promise of sex and she knew it would happen in abundance. Hunter’s weekend long parties catered to the sexually adventurous. A person could indulge fetishes of all varieties without censure. From experience, she knew that most activities took place in rooms out of sight.
Most didn’t bother waiting to find an empty room and the dance floor would quickly become a teeming mass of bodies. Tonight was no exception as she waded through the heavy pheromones and scantily clad couples that writhed in time to the music. Her eyes couldn’t help wandering over the bare flesh, or absorbing the cries of satisfaction.
Bypassing the bar itself, she found an empty table with a low couch just to the side and sank down into it. It was a perfect place to observe the crowd and regain her equilibrium. The sexual energy seemed to seep into her blood, settling like a heavy pulse between her thighs.
It was fun to sit back and observe the interactions of the uninhibited partygoers. She loved how primal people became when one stripped pretense away. Money or not, many of the people were there to find a piece of ass for the night. It was true hunter/prey dynamics at work and she found herself getting caught in the heat of it.
Gazelle watched a tall man in a fitted suit track a brightly dressed blonde woman standing at the bar. The woman stole glances his direction as though waiting to see if he’d make a move. It was impossible not to imagine herself as that woman, preening under his eyes, challenging him to give chase.
The way his eyes slid over her back and down to her butt would feel like a physical touch. Gazelle felt her nipples tighten as he prowled over to the woman. His hungry eyes devoured, scorching bare skin, and staking claim. The man was a master as he easily separated her from her friends so it was just the two of them talking.
Sitting forward in her chair, Gazelle watched him flash the woman a smile that showed his teeth. The woman turned her body toward him enough to show her interest. Gazelle admired the way her breasts jutted out with each breath, her high laughter carried over the music as her lips tipped in a smile that spoke of wanting more.
His hand slipped around to the woman’s low back, then lower, his palm cupping her bottom. That touch spoke of possession. Gazelle felt her arousal spike, her pussy clenching as she thought of how this would end. It was the point of capture and she knew that it led to something more. His gaze was too hot; the electricity bouncing between those two was too good for it not to end any other way. She felt the thrill of that chase though it wasn’t her experiencing it.
“A drink, miss?” A butler interrupted her lascivious train of thought as it started to take flight.
Squashing her embarrassment, she answered over the din, “A whiskey sour please.”
A nod and he disappeared without another word. The couple no longer lingered at that bar and she felt disappointed to miss out on the burgeoning passion.
As she cast her eyes around the crowd, she let the question floating in her mind come to fore. Why was she really here? Nothing except honesty remained. Gazelle missed the excitement of a man’s attention, she missed eyes on her, she missed being desired and sought after.
She missed Hunter.
Here are some steps that helps me, ease the process of criticism by myself or someone else:
1.Realize you can’t see yourself from every angle.
2.Stand and take it like a woman and let it sink in to your brain.
3.Feel the blow – if there is one – just FEEL it. don’t judge, don’t take it as correct, just FEEL
4.Now decide if it feels accurate TO YOU. You are the holder of your own truth that no one else can attest to so YOU are the one who decides what is correct to you.
5.Decide if the suggestion would be positive and help you reach your goal – whatever that is. Does it make sense? Is it smart? Does it FEEL right. There is a feeling to something that flows with accuracy.
6. If it feels like something you can use to make “it” better, use it well
7. If it feels unproductive, negative for “right” reasons, toss it. It’s no use to you.
8. Stand strong and await next time. : ) It gets easier (less emotional) the more you do it. You can’t take it SO personally AND just because someone ( me and these steps, for instance haha) says something – they aren’t automatically right just because they say something.At least thats how I take a hit on something I am attached to, in love with, invested in…. I have to be rational and unemotional. You can do it!! love you, CC Jayne
Thanks for this, Jayne. I’m an overly sensitive creature by nature so it takes little to cripple me when it comes to criticism. You should blog this. 🙂
really, ok – since you said to, I will….
It’ll be helpful to others I’m sure.
done sweet lady!
I love Jayne’s suggestions. I would like to add one suggestion to her amazing list: Sleep on the comments. It’s amazing how a single day can help a writer adjust to what’s written and what’s being said.
I know the 12/12 Challenge is a bit ridiculous–but even if you just get a week or two of better writing from it–then I consider the whole thing a success.
Good suggestion. I’m usually really good about evaluating observations. My sensitivity about my work is lessening, but it’s still hard.
It was a brilliant idea! Sorry I bailed.
No harm, no foul:)