Praise is Good and Change is Scary
Geez, things change in an instant. David Cook is no longer the front-runner to be the next American Idol (but I still think he should be, because he has way more artistic integrity than the pipsqueak David Archuleta and I voted for him a gazillion times anyway) and suddenly the TypePad interface is completely different. Cool, but completely different. It always takes me awhile to embrace changes like these.
The above was the Change is Scary part of this post. Now we get to the important part–the Praise is Good part. The wonderful Lori devoted an entire blog post to me today. (Pause for applause, please–I found the new make a link button and guess what? You can now open it in a new window.)
Lori won the contest I held awhile back and at first she was going to take a free coaching session as her prize but then she decided to take me up on my offer of reading the first 20 pages of her novel. It was an absolute pleasure to read her work but I always hold my breath a little after I deliver a critique. When I read a writer's work I do my utmost to be scrupulously honest and also supportive and encouraging.
The MFA program I attended operated on the principle that a supportive environment is just as good, if not better, at turning out fine writers than a harshly critical one and I like to uphold those values in my own teaching. However, what might seem supportive and encouraging and honest to me might read as scathing to you–particularly if you are not used to have your work critiqued.
My most favorite response to a critique is when someone says that it inspired them to get back to the project with renewed vigor and that is what Lori said today. So I'm basking just as much as Lori is today–its what makes this work I do worthwhile.
Let me also mention the other winners of the contest. Lauri also sent me the first chapter of her novel and it was great, too. I don't know what it is with the talented Lauri/Loris who read this blog, but I'm grateful for them.