I am a blogger for the writing website, Scribophile.com. If you feel compelled to read my thoughts on the struggles and joys of writing, my posts are published every Friday.
As a blogger, I get a free premium membership to the site. I have yet to figure out what this means, exactly, but I figured I’d better take advantage of it. I made up a lovely pen name, critiqued some people’s stuff, and garnered enough points to post a short story of my own that other writers could critique.
I waited with baited breath to see what people might say.
The story received mixed reviews. I was surprised that I didn’t take any of the criticism personally. There was no throwing of myself on the floor while moaning that I’m a worthless nobody, which relieved Caleb. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding. This has NEVER happened. Don’t call social services. Not yet, anyway.) I was, however, a little miffed that people didn’t get my subtle brand of humor.
In a nutshell, the story (which was written a couple of years ago) is about a girl trying to come to terms with the existence or non-existence of God. Deep deep stuff. It’s relatively short, only 1300 words, and is divided into five sections: Hannah’s (Hannah is my poor, confused protagonist) childhood, Hannah’s teenage years, Hannah’s college years, and Hannah’s early motherhood years. In the last section, Hannah’s husband bites the dust in a heroic fashion.
It’s a comedy.
Here’s an excerpt from “the college years” section.
Jason and his roommate, Seth, engaged in impassioned theological arguments and discussed people like Kierkegaard, Luther, and the Christian Platonists of Alexandria. Hannah knit them scarves as she sat, cross-legged, on Jason’s bed, and listened with acute interest, absorbing information and later writing what she learned down in a black and white composition notebook she kept under her pillow in her dorm room.
“That’s SUCH BULL*&%*!” Jason would often exclaim. Jason’s impassioned exclamations always piqued Hannah’s interest. He was the first Christian she had met who unapologetically swore in a loud and brazen fashion.
One afternoon, she asked her suite-mates what they thought about God.
“God is, like, within all of us,” said Stacy.
“I’ll tell you one thing. God doesn’t want us to kill babies,” said Shana.
“God is dead,” said Sam.
“Didn’t John Lennon say that?” asked Stacy.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Sam.
My critics’ major beef was with the conversation between Hannah and her suitemates. A UK critic was sure I meant flat-mates. A couple of critics informed me that John Lennon said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, not that God is dead. A third critic noted, with disapproval, that all of the suitemates’ names started with S.
This all amused me. I purposely had Sam wrongly attribute Nietzsche’s quote to Lennon. I also purposely gave the girls S-names- I thought it added to the humorous flow of the conversation, because the suitemates were obviously dingbats.
I was told the story needed to be longer. I was told I lacked focus. I was told the story was well thought-out. They found a lot of typos. That was embarrassing.
It was an interesting experience. Throwing your writing out there and asking for honest feedback is like begging for a piece of humble pie.
I often say to John:
“John! Nobody gets me!”
“Well, you’re very mysterious,” is his reply.
“Yes. Yes. Mystery is my passion,” I say, mysteriously. That is why I used a pen name when I posted my story. And it is why I will use a pen name when I rip apart other people’s writing on the site, as well.
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." -H.G. Wells