Continuing on in my Month of Thanks, here is my letter for October 11th.
To M. R. Polish,
Since the moment I discovered this thing called “critique partners”, I’ve been looking for that special someone who fit with my slightly masochistic need to see my manuscripts bleed. Six years into this whole writing thing, I think I’ve finally stumbled on the exact person I’ve been searching for.
This is not to say that the others who’ve read my words and made their notes were any less valued or any less helpful. I cherish all input I get from beta readers.
But what you’ve given me in the past few months has opened my eyes and my writing in stunning ways. Even my first drafts are more thoughtful, concise, distinctly better than they were before your red pen entered my life.
For example, I was unaware of my obsession with the word “had”. The simple act of calling me on this has changed the way I form sentences in a huge way.
Your notes on description and action made me conscious of how I phrase things and how I weave it into the story.
I question clarity. I question physical actions. I question the need for every word I write, driven to make each syllable crucially important.
What’s even more astonishing, is that it’s become so ingrained in my head that I can apply this new knowledge to others’ work. Being able to pass this on and help them the way you’ve helped me is such a gift from you. But I still wasn’t quite satisfied.
We see eye to eye on what we want as far as a critique goes. You doubted me when I said “MAKE IT BLEED”. There was concern about hurting feelings, but I’m glad you decided to give me a shot anyway. There were no tears when I got that first chapter back from you, only elation that finally, FINALLY, I found someone that was going to take my work to the next level. You made it better. Under your watchful eye, flaws and errors were chipped away, and I couldn’t believe the way the story sparkled when you were done with it.
And then, something even more amazing happened. I got to return the favor, to apply everything you’ve taught me and everything I already knew to your words. I was horribly nervous sending you my notes for that first chapter, hoping that I was doing it right, that you did, indeed, want the same tough love you’d shown me. When you pinged me back, I couldn’t help hearing your laughter with the slightest touch of madness… the same excited insanity I felt the first time I saw your notes.
And I thought yes. This is what this is supposed to feel like! This is how we can lift and climb at the same time. This is a partnership. I can finally pull my weight.
So, thank you for making me better.
And thank you for letting me give that back.
Wielding a machete of gratitude,
You can find out more about M. R. Polish on her blog.