Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Critical Mass


We crave these opportunities.
These public sodomizations.
Usually.
The Crabby Cows are another set of annonymous editors offering advice and critique to writers.
If their language isn't pure, their motive is.
They've set up a wonderful exercise on their new blog.
An entrant must write 500 words based on a prompt.
Guranteed to get any seized imagination on the move - better than 3-in-1, WD-40 or RustWrench.
The mind immediately rotates around a million "what ifs."
But there's a catch.
They will rate your rung on the publishing ladder based on the flash.
Don't think I've got the guts to enter.
So sneer.
Not that I'm too tender for criticism.
I made Miss Snark stand on her chair and scream after all - then I went off and ripped out 13 pages of the WIP.
Not that I don't have much to learn.
Oh dear, no. It's not that either.
I know I have aways to go - I just don't want to know how far.
Too far down and there's little hope.
What if they say "dear Cowlet, you're a two?"
Talk about "thinning the herd."
Surely it's only about that piece of flash - but you wonder if by some arcane bit of insight, they've nailed you but proper?
The idea, the label sticks to the forehead.
Criticism I can take, but not that. Not if the climb looks insurmountable.
I'd go looking for worms to eat.
Maybe I'm not a Real Writer after all.

21 comments:

kmfrontain said...

Flash fiction makes me want to pull wings off butterflies. The very idea of attempting one is a set of nails scratching down my internal blackboard. If someone were to tell me to read hundreds of flash subs, I'd get out my glue stick and paste the butterfly wings to my dreamcatchers, and I'd get out Raid to do in the pesky bodies lying beneath, to avoid all the screaming butterfly voices asking "Why? Why?"
I've no time to burn my brain out agonising over anything so short, I'll say, but be quiet, because I can't hear you for the nails on the blackboard, dearest butterfly carcasses. Flutter away all tiny plots with ephemeral means of catching my interest. If the dreamcatcher's aren't telling you anything...::sprays can of Raid::

Savannah Jordan said...

Flash is just that. Flash. Fairy glamour. Pretty for a minute. I do not feel judging flash fic a proper guage for an author's abilities in writing novels, etc. An author's voice can be so different from one genre to another.

In short, f*ck flash. You're a great writer, Bernita. I have greatly missed reading your whit and wording.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oh my! Of course you're a real writer, Bernita! We learn by writing more than anything else--more than all the criticism and rejection and how-to-write books out there. If you're writing, you are a Real Writer.

I admit to participating in the flash frenzy over at Crabby Cows, but personally I needed the kick. I write a ton; lately, though, it's been almost all work: ad copy, non-fiction ebooks, articles about tiki torches of all things. Barely any fiction.

I think it helps, but I also think we shouldn't judge ourselves solely on one type of writing. I'm a brilliant copywriter (or so they say). My fiction needs work, though. :-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah.
Have surely missed you while you slaved under the demands of your agent and editors these weeks!

It's not that there's necessarily anything wrong with the flash exercise, I think it's an excellent stimulant - but I feel rather sober about it.

Now that, KM, is a really neat piece of "flash."

kmfrontain said...

I really get going when I'm being sarcastic. ::evil grin::

I don't think you need to worry about seeking criticisms/praise via flash fiction either. If your medium is longer fiction, then it is. Anyhow, I've already seen you pull off interesting flashy bits here and there on your blog, and the butterflies survived.

Bernita said...

It's not the criticism, SW, or the public eviseration, those are valuable, useful learning tools - it's the label that undermines.
It blurs the line between "this sucks" and "you suck."

BTW, I had the impression you were brilliant. Period.

Flood said...

Flash really is a whole different breed than the short story or full length. It's about economy of words, and often sets to strike the reader fast and hard. When written well, you can tell it hasn't been thrown together. I love flash, but it's a bit unfair to compare flash to other lengths.

Hemingway's shortest flash, as you may know, is: For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

Evocative, but hardly an indication to what his novels would be like.

Bernita said...

I admire your prose greatly, KM. You know that.
Thank you.

I've been trying to analyze this theory/method.
Wonder if it's the same as writing a scene in a longer work.
Now, of course, every scene is not scintillating and exciting and therefore will carry the reader past by its action , but I wonder if certain weaknesses, certain fatal weaknesses might be revealed to the discerning and experienced eye, and if that is the basis for the ranking.

Bernita said...

I'm wondering, Flood.
There are some that claim the comparisons are valid.
Perhaps it is the time limit that bothered me as well.
Some of us have certain habitual weaknesses which we recognize and remove on revision, and that avoidance or removal has not not yet become automatic and instinctive.

Jaye Wells said...

The self-doubt and angst are hallmarks of a true writer. Besides, having the guts to post your writing to an anonymous source doesn't prove you're a writer. Writing does.

Dennie McDonald said...

I am embarking on a new writing venture - my fried and I are trying to co-author a book - I love her to death so lets hope we don't kill each other by the end =)

Dennie McDonald said...

that would be friend - we haven't been fried in a while.... LOL!

Bernita said...

I'm sure it will be a winner, Dennie.

Does it, Jaye?
True, everyone, except for the terminally arrogant seems to have bouts of doubt, but all who doubt are not automatically true writers.
Ranking rankles my rostrum,though and I'm trying to discover the logic behind it.
It may, after all, be perfectly valid.

jason evans said...

Ranking is harmful. We’re all moving along the highway at different positions and speeds. Everyone. Slapping a rank on someone is like slamming on the brakes. If that happens, the journey is over.

(BTW, Blogger is a train wreck lately. It has been a monumental task to post comments.)

Bernita said...

That's similar to the way I see it, Jason.
I'd prefer to let my delusions run rampant a little while longer.

Yep. Blogger's been burbling this morning again.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Heheh! Eating worms is better than swirling down the toilet!

I remember that childhood song..."Nobody lives me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna' eat a worm!!"

LOL...I always came to the conclusion that if nobody loved me, ast least I loved myself enough to eat T-bone rather than worms!!

LOL..I feel the same way about my writing. Even if no one ever loves it....it makes me happy, and I guess that's all that counts...LOL

Oh, and Bernita...you're writing is just fine...I'm still hiding behind my fan!

Bernita said...

Bonnie, that is the most lovely, exotic and SEXY picture.
Go see Bonnie's post today people!
Now I HAVE to do a sex post.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Aw, gee *choke* *splutter*

You made me get all teary!

Thank you, Bernita. You have made my day -- and now I feel like I can get through this godawful... lovely! I mean lovely! e-book, and all of these scintillating ads.

I agree: the exercise is good, but the ranking is almost like judging a novel by its query letter (grrrr! Oh, I feel another rant coming on!)

Your brilliance shines through in this blog. So glad you're not going to take off from it!

Jaye Wells said...

My point was that a serious or "real" writer wouldn't let the ranking of an anonymous critiquer shatter their resolve. They'd keep writing anyway. Yes, at first it's tough to get any negative feedback. As Jason said we're all at different levels.

As for the rankings, perhaps it is unfair. But I think anyone who submits to Crabby Cows or Miss Snark or EE has only themselves to blame if their feelings get hurt. Those sites are not for the timid or easily discouraged.

Bernita said...

That's very true, Jaye, thank you.
Further, those sites give ample warning they have no intention of molly-coddling writers, so caveat emptor! applies forthwith.

SW, I mean it.

For The Trees said...

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Bernita, Dear, please do a Forrest: QUIT comparing yourself to others and write for your own heart's content.