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Michelle's Musings

Wanted: Fresh Eyes

If you've previously visited my website, you may have noticed that I recently won a First Place award for my writing, an honor that I continue to relish. As a fellow writer, you understand the difficulty of plowing through multiple drafts of your work and then mustering up enough courage to send it to someone with a critical writer's eye. Imagine the gumption required to submit to a contest, especially if it's your first competition!


Two interesting facts about the award I received: The piece was never critiqued, but not for lack of trying. A couple of months prior to its submission, I and two other writers formed a new writing group and agreed to provide "gentle" constructive criticism of each other's work. We set a date for our first session the following month. Meanwhile, I worked on the short humor piece and planned to submit it to the group, but one of our members was hospitalized with a serious illness. We delayed our first meeting; however, with the clock ticking, I polished it on my own and sent it in.


Eventually, I received the judges' feedback about that piece as well as another I submitted last-minute to a different genre category. Let's just say the input on the second submission was not great. Upon re-reading the failed piece with fresh eyes, I had to agree that it was a bit rough around the edges. I even considered the possibility that I'd inadvertently sent an early draft instead of the final version. It was bad enough to lead me to ask of the winning entry, How the heck did I write something highly praised by multiple judges without having a fresh pair of eyes review it?


You may be tempted to think, Who needs critiquing? It's too demoralizing. After receiving my award, I momentarily contemplated going it alone from then on out in spite of sound rejection of the second work. However, I quickly came to my senses. In the end, the sum of these responses gave me greater confidence in my ability to write well.


We all produce cringe-worthy work, but we may not appreciate the necessity for revision until we show it to others. So, as you plug away at your craft, consider sharing your work with a pair of fresh eyes, and try submitting to a contest. The practice will improve your writing and help you become better equipped to handle constructive criticism, which is indispensable in this industry.


Cheers for the New Year! May you write your new best work in 2022.