Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for our writing insecurities to pop their little heads out, just in time to get whacked back down into the depths of our subconscious by multiple author-hammers. GET BACK IN YOUR PLACE, INSECURITIES!

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Ahem. Anyway. The optional question for May 1: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

The co-hosts for the month of May are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! Thanks to all of you for moderating/hosting today.

To answer the question, I don’t remember an early experience where I learned that language had power. But this quote from Seanan McGuire really resonated on this topic and it came to my attention just in time for this month’s IWSG, so I call that fate.

“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one’s looking, and words don’t leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That’s what makes them so powerful. That’s what makes them so important.

That’s what makes them hurt so much.”

–Seanan McGuire, Middlegame

As authors, we know that the words from any of our book reviews or critiques have an IMMENSE amount of power. I’ve been extremely lucky to have reviewers/critique partners who use that power responsibly. (Thank you, if you’re reading. Especially George, and author SA Healey. You are angels in my personal headcanon.)

Recently I received feedback from an RWA chapter contest.

*non-romance writers: that’s the Romance Writers of America, nearly every state in the US has its own chapter and those chapters host contests which judge both published and unpublished romance. SUPER USEFUL and I totally recommend submitting to them.*

I always submit my unpublished manuscripts to RWA contests because the judging is incredibly helpful. Most of it comes from fellow authors, who are published, and therefore have plenty of useful things to point out.

One piece of critique from this round, in particular, really struck me. I also laughed until I snorted when I read it. Which doesn’t often happen with feedback.

“The concept is great and the writing is solid. I like the fact that grammatical and spelling errors are not making me want to quit reading.”

How perfect is that? My judge pointed out in the most gentle way that I could really benefit from some extra grammar checking. Instead of feeling crushed, or sad, or defensive I’m actually feeling empowered. The way she phrased it makes me chuckle, and then feel the urge to plug in my manuscript into Grammarly (which I should have done before submitting, anyway). (I use the free version.) (So 50K words is A LOT to shove into Grammarly.) (Like, I have to do it paragraph by paragraph) (That’s no excuse, SE.) (Do or do not.) (There is no try.)

This month there aren’t a ton of insecurities for me to air, but I’m grateful to have this fresh reminder of how much power language can have over my writing experience. The feedback from all three judges in this particular contest was positive and I go forth from here feeling pretty damn confident and happy with my writing.