Lentils, Critiques, and the Flu

After WFC I was en-flued. I was flu-ified. I was flu-dead. (Also, lentils.)

Really, it took me out of commission completely for five days, and then a further five days of suffering with a mucky pair of lungs and zero stamina made the middle part of November quite the unhappy slog. Only 18,000 new words under my belt, far short of what I had hoped to get but realistically, with WFC and the flu and the dying — not bad. Doesn’t help that all this happened as I entered the novel’s middle, that 20-30K wall which sometimes has a lot of bricks towering very high and with very few handholds. (Like, seriously, can someone hook me up with Ezio, or that new kid, Connor?)

Still, I’m battered and bruised but I think I’m safely on the other side. Beyond new words, I also dug into two more critiques, a 20K opener to one fantasy novel, and another novel-length one that I need to type my notes and get out the door. That makes seven (plus the excerpt) novel-length works I’ve critiqued this year.

I like to critique, both to give and get, though I have not had much of anything ready for secondary eyeballs as I stay chained to the first draft treadmill. (A whole different story, for much later.) My local writing group used to critique short stories fairly regularly, but most of us are working on novels now, and none of them have anything to share yet. (We’re looking at changing the structure, trying to critique self-contained scenes, to keep our gears oiled in the meantime.) They’ve looked at a few of my previous novel drafts, trunked stuff now, and the feedback has been useful.

But getting to do novel-length critiques? Even better. I learn so much — not because the work I’m reading is poor (they’re very much not!) — but I think I can intuit some of the processes that these other writers have used, and I can question and try to figure out why they made the choices they made when writing their novel. There are lessons you can learn in the microcosm of the short story and apply to longer work, of course, but I feel like I’m learning more with a whole novel in front of me. After these critiques, I’m better able to see these same tools and structures when reading published work, so I can tease their tools out and see how I might use them. And hopefully what I offer back is of use to the writer, too.

I’m blessed right now with the time and space to devote to this sort of work, unlike last year. Not sure what the next few months hold for me, but I hope I get the chance to continue critiquing on top of the writing.

And (fingers crossing) I’m hoping to have two novels ready for Betas in the first few months of the new year. With November so chewed up, I’m wondering if I can get the bulk of the rewrite done on Blood of Wolves in December, start hitting the Star Door revisions (which really needs a non-suck, non code-word title at some point), and then put a call out for Betas.

2012, so far, has been about production. I want 2013 to be about submission. (And more production.)

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2 thoughts on “Lentils, Critiques, and the Flu

  1. Sylvie

    I can’t wait to get my hands on Star Door (code name or not 😛 lol). Also, critiquing your novels has also helped me in my ability to write them, so THANKS!!! 😀

    1. Steph

      I look forward to giving it to you! I think I’m clear-headed about it enough to try to get a pass through this month. (Or, I may be crazy. But I want eyeballs on this thing, dammit!) XD

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