Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Feb IWSG: A little about critiques and stars

Wednesday night, and it's time to post on my blog as  part of  the Insecure Writer's Support Group's monthly challenge!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the scope of your writing project? perhaps deadlines? Today is a day to talk about those creeping insecurities that we somehow find a way to face down and persevere.

This pic shows dear hubby on an amazing hike trip we took in the Atacama Desert in Northern Peru a few years back. Our tour guide took us down sand dunes that stretched to the horizon and then to this narrow canyon. Before we began, though, two younger women looked at us and said, "They'll never make it. They'll hold us back." Guess who fell behind? Wasn't us. I'll never forget that sense of freedom as we rolled down those gigantic sand dunes.
Hiking the Atacama Desert, Chile

What does this have to do with writing? Well, we writers do so appreciate a good critique. But what happens when the crit doesn't inspire us to keep writing? In fact, what if a critique makes us stop writing?

Do we learn what we can from that critique, then let go and simply return to our writing? Sometimes.

A writing friend reminded me that we need to recognize that we are telling OUR story, the story we love, the story that won't let us go. This may be the story that we can't finish in a few months or even a year. Maybe our characters talk to us -- and maybe they don't. But something keeps pulling us back to this story. We can circle around, study our favorite writing gurus, and recognize we may never make every reader happy. We can simply persevere with our writing.

So, this month, I've worked through those critiques, done some research, and revised for more effective use of inner dialogue, and now I'm setting those critiques aside and focusing on the story itself. BTW, here's a short summary of what I learned about inner dialogue:

1) Not everyone thinks in their head!
2) Shorter is better, especially when my character is under stress.
3) Watch out for narrator's intrusion AKA back story!
4) It's ok to use italics for inner dialogue. Some very famous writers do -- and many others don't.

Just so you know, I'm back to writing . . . and happy to be here, talking to you as part of this month's IWSG.

Here's IWSG's February 5 question - Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

When I lived in San Francisco, I stood in line for four hours to see a traveling exhibit of Van Gogh's work. I can't say his paintings inspired a specific story of mine, but his life and work have affirmed the importance of creativity to each of us. I cannot watch this wonderful video of Don McLean's "Starry, Starry Night," illustrated with Van Gogh's work, without tears.

So, no matter what form it takes, poetry, short stories, novels, or painting, I wish you a joyful end-of-the-winter month ahead to explore YOUR creativity.

Part of participating in the Insecure Writer's Support Group's monthly challenge is to check in, find out what others are thinking about. Why not click on over!

Thanks go to co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!  And a special thank you to Alex J.  Cavanaugh for starting this all.


  1. I LOVE your wisdom Beth. YOU inspire!

  2. Oh my, Beth!! I truly, truly LOVED this post. It packs a punch with its tidbits of wisdom and priceless experiences. Like, what do you mean that not everyone thinks in their head?? Seriously, that’s what I do all the time! Then again, Mark and I have always concluded that people who think less are better off - less worries, responsibility level, and the like. A more blissful life...

    Talking about inner dialogue put in italics - that’s what I did in my travel memoir. I’m glad it is approved off, as it would need a big chunk of work to change all that in my 94K manuscript. :-)

    And then, the cherry on top... I’m well aware of the song “Vincent” (and found out today, as I played your video, that Mark, a US citizen, has never heard this song of Don McLean!), but had no clue it had to do with Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite (if not my most favorite) painter!

    That video you attached is incredible and it almost brought me to tears as well. Talk about a creative and eccentric artist... It always boggled my mind how non-Dutch speakers pronounce his name as well. Replicas of his paintings play an important part of my life in Belgium, as I had posters of them everywhere I lived.

    Thank you for the wonderful memories and for teaching me lots of new things today.