Thursday, August 21, 2014

Determination Incarnate

I recently attended my first critique group near my new home and immediately missed the old one in the desert. The first woman listening to my reading warmed me up with serious criticism. I’m telling not showing she said, with determination. Ouch. After reflecting on her comments, it occurred to me that I had read my new prologue and I don’t think it’s supposed to dish everything out on a silver-plated platter. In fact, some people don’t even read prologues. It is a special piece of writing that gives a tiny bit of insight into how a story unfolds or why certain things will happen, later. It is before the showing and thus it is first, so I’m not really peeved about her comments because she was right, (did you hear that Miss Creeteek?) In this case, however, I think I’m right too. Any thoughts?
Now for a poem using the word determination.

Cloud White by Eve Gaal

The empty page,
Shakes its fist
with anger and determination.
It means well,
But I turn away,
Deciding to ride my bike, bake cookies, swim some laps...
and watch some incredible cloud formations.
The novel will have to wait.


I guess the ultimate question facing a novelist is: 
Determined to finish-
Despite the distractions-
Despite everything.
To advertise-
To promote-
To share-
To network-
And to write sequels?

Have you done it?
Will you do it again?
Are you creating a new story right now?
Will you follow through with the research?
Do you have an editor?
How about a cover?
A platform?
A blurb?
Will you finish it?

If you're not a writer--
I'm sure you can still relate.
Are there projects sitting on a shelf, needing your attention?
Someday, you think.
Willpower? Perhaps. 
I call it determination.


  1. She could still say it with tact though.
    And I always read prologues. Why would someone skip part of the story?

  2. I think I would have shown her something...

    You were right, Eve.

  3. I'm with club Alex. Some tact is in order, especially for a first meeting with a new group. I'm used to prologues not being as active as the actual story, so I'd take the advice with a grain of salt, thank the lady, then kindly discard the advice. :)

  4. oooooooh !
    Best advice I got when I had my first baby was listen to advice with a smile ( I learned the "I did not know that" line ) then forget it.
    Works for a writer too I think ?

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Listen with a smile, like Parsnip says. Good poem, Eve!

  6. Don't you just love know it alls. We has one in my live group. But she left thank God. I guess some peeps grow big heads after they publish.

    As for my writing, I'm slugging along on Killer Stilettos.

  7. I would hate for you to see all the projects sitting on my shelves!
    I find writing blog posts daunting enough (hence all the pictures!) so have nothing but admiration for authors.

  8. Determination is the question. Love those people who jump up to be the first to point out the problem. Believe in yourself and keep plugging away. You've got talent and plenty of it.

  9. I've never been to a critique group, but if I did go I guess I'd expect to be critiqued. Still, there is a tactful way to put things. No one likes those people who act like they know everything and are so quick to let you know how much they think they know! And, I totally agree with you about the prologue, which I always read! The prologue is by nature, a telling, not a showing.
    Good work Eve! :)

  10. In some cases it's fine to tell and not show. Robert Masello's Robert's Rules of Writing has a section on that. I wrote an epilogue that had more telling than showing because that's all that was needed. Hope you get used to your new group--change can be hard sometimes:(.