Where do I start and how do I word it so nobody sues me out of my last binder?
Facts first. I got my second choice as leader for Workshop A which covered 3k of an anything, preferably a beginning because it takes less explaining. I had a fun time cursing when I found out, bit by bit and after sending my materials, that I could have sent in about anything as long as it was 3k. Though it was probably better this way. The amount of things I could have chosen from and my inability to choose would have made it a lot worse than it already was.
I was excited and scared. Excited because new people! And scared because – well, exactly the same thing. I can be a lot and I have stopped being enormously apologetic when it shows. Also, there were men in my group which is always extra amounts of work. (ngl, I prefer men to enter my life vetted through people I trust. The omfg-no rate drops to about zero that way.)
Kudos to my workshop leader. She did an amazing job, first giving us time to get to know each other and also first my impression was, yes, indeed this is an excellent person. Sometimes even I luck out.
Can’t say I wasn’t burning nervous about the critiquing. On the one hand, I do have a perspective. On the other hand I also do have Impostor Syndrome. At least my pages were not the first. I was just the first to add my comments on it.
It went ok. All of the critiques went ok. Nobody thought I should maybe get my hubris sanded down or anything. I learnt that being German can be of great help when you are scared to point out things that can be read right-wing because, well – *waves vaguely in the direction of Nazi-Germany*
I learnt that what looked well-meaning but misguided came actually from a well-thought-out place and just didn’t have the background. A bit of a Mitsubishi Pajero incident.
The critique that went best was me requesting the full of the manuscript dropped into my DMs ASAP (and got it 😭). I may have been prejudiced there, because enby co-protag.
Am I avoiding to talk about my critique went? Yes, yes I am.
It was amazing to see how people from such different backgrounds agreed on some things and had completely opposing ideas about some others. I was also very pleased that I didn’t see a single bit of Middle-Aged White Literature!Literature Snob Man attitude. (Which tells you all you need to know about the last official writing thing I did.)
I was also very happy that on stories I felt very helpless with, the group had good insights and ideas. The idea that I am not being useful is something I should probably see a therapist about. Maybe I’ll do a blog post instead. 😋
So, what did they say about my beginning of Sava 2?
They liked it. 😱
It was a good thing I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I had expected this detailed take-down on how things did not work and why. Because it still feels as if I am breaking all the rules of writing fantasy and I shouldn’t get away with it.
And here were smart people with good critiquing skills and sharp minds to poke at bad writing and –
It felt more like a positivity pass than anything else. I mean, world’s most expensive positivity pass, I guess. But how do you tell your brainsoup that obviously the voice works and the things happening keep people reading well enough and yes, Freya comes across as gorgeous and amazing as she is.
There’s definitely stuff I want to work on. I know it is a second part, but I really want people to be able to just Start Here and feel confident. Which is a problem I have since Book 1, Page 1, Word 1. To circle back, it is extremely interesting to see what different people consider important information to feel grounded in a beginning.
Another thing that stuck was, how unprofessional Sava appeared falling head over heals for Freya. Isn’t she supposed to be on a job? Shouldn’t she be less smitten or at least keep it under control?
I have bad news for everybody. Sava is not professional. She sees a woman, her head short-circuits. She is not solving her cases through clever sleuthing and deductions. Sava is using Big Bard energy to get out of her cases. She is doing monsters (and gets paid for that. Dream job indeed…).
Unexpectedly, but not unsurprisingly, the monster of author envy reared its head when one of my friends got to work with my first choice for Group A. Such is life. It sucks. You cry. You move on. (Also damn! Good on her.)