Monday, January 31, 2011

Pay It Forward

Shelli is hosting this awesome Pay It Forward blogfest/contest at her blog in which she and her participants recognize a person (or people) who have helped them in their writing journey or personal life. Go check it out!
Everyone always says that when it comes to people reading your manuscript, you shouldn’t trust your family. And I get that. I mean, my mom has mine listed under her favorite books on facebook. But my grandfather isn’t like that. He’s honest, brutally so sometimes. And I always know that when he praises something, it’s for real.

            So, if there’s one person who’s been the biggest help to my writing, it’s him. He is the one person I can count on to give me honest feedback. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If something isn’t working, even if he’s not sure what it is or why, he tells me. He doesn’t dance around anything or worry about it hurting my feelings.
I have critique partners, and don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but sometimes people get so caught up in the “complement sandwich” that they forget the layer of criticism. Or they’re too worried about offending you to be as harsh as your writing needs them to be.
            But honestly? We’re writers. If we can’t take the criticism, we should probably start considering another profession. Beta readers, critique partners… they’re just the beginning.
            I was about fourteen when I let my grandpa read my first novel. It was a train wreck. I mean, I was fourteen when I finished it, so really, I must have been twelve or thirteen writing it. I had every right to write a mess of a book. But he waded through it patiently, offering advice and correcting my disastrous grammar. He was never mean (still not) but he was always honest. And it’s that honesty that’s helped me grow as a writer.
            It stings sometimes, and I remember my fourteen-year-old self struggling with separating myself from the writing. Because that’s what we have to do. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but our writing is not us. When someone criticizes our writing, they’re not criticizing us. It’s the reality of writing. And without my grandfather, I wouldn’t be half as prepared.
            The thing is... he’s sick. We’re not sure how much longer we’ll get to have him. And I can’t imagine writing without him. I know he’s my grandfather and I shouldn’t expect him to be around forever. But I wish he could be.
This is going to sound so cheesy, so I apologize in advance. But it’s true when I say he’ll always live through my writing. His words and advice are entombed there. He’s played such an active role in helping me grow that only way I could ever hope to repay him is to just keep writing. And I will.
            Is there anyone that’s helped you along your journey? What did they do for you?

And here's my four sentence pitch entry for Shelli's contest:

When 16-year-old Jemma Stone is attacked by a cult of men in wooden masks, she flees to the safety of Kingery Conservatory of Elemental Enchantment, the school where she will learn to harness her ability to manipulate the four elements. Only, Kingery isn’t as perfect or as safe as it seems. There’s a darkness in its past that threatens to creep out of the shadows. And when the masked men start appearing at Kingery, Jemma must figure out why they want her dead and what it has to do with the school’s sinister past before they succeed in killing her, or worse, the person she has come to love most.


  1. i just cried when I read this. I'll think about your grandpa tonight and think its so special how he helps you. :)

  2. That is the the sweetest post. I miss my grandfather, he inspired me in several different ways and he's always there in my heart and memories. Hugs to you and hang in there. Also, that pitch is awesome. I love the premise of your story. Good luck in Shelli's contest and with mine next week. :D

  3. Hi,

    I don't know if it's too late for you to change it for your contest, but the "it's" in the 3rd sentence shouldn't have an apostrophe because it's possessive and not a contraction of "it is".

    Thanks for your advice on my Blogfest post, I think it was the perfect change!