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The more you put in - the more you get out -- by Barbara Elsborg

When I came across CC – it was mentioned on a writers’ site I no longer frequent—it was like discovering  the holy grail. At last there was a place where I could find out what unbiased people thought about my writing. As I began to critique people’s work and they began to critique mine, I discovered all sorts of things I’d never even thought about – passive voice, mastering point of view, dialogue tags etc What I’d thought was pretty polished writing turned out to be anything but.

So I critiqued like crazy – at one point I had chapters from three novels in the public queue each week. I think I needed 27 credits a week to make sure they went in week after week. That’s a lot of critiquing! My husband used to complain about the amount of time I spent reading other people’s work but I learnt so much from doing that. What worked – what didn’t work. I critiqued in almost every genre whether it was one I’d usually read or not, especially first chapters because it was clear to me that if you didn’t catch the reader in the first few paragraphs – they were lost to you. I’ve done more critiques than most others on CC, I’ve also put over 20 novels through the queues – though mostly private.

Not every piece of work I’ve read has been wonderful but I feel privileged to have read them all –from chapters by authors who’ve gone on to sell over 100,000 – chapters by young writers with dyslexia, chapters by octogenarians, talented work by some that I can’t understand why it hasn’t been snapped up and published, work that I doubt will ever be published but regardless – every single thing I’ve read has the heart of the author in it and if I’ve been able to help in any small way, it’s in gratitude for the help I’ve received in return.

I’m much less well known on CC than I used to be. My problem now is time – not enough hours in  the day. The reason for going private was a combination of the fact that I write mostly erotic romance and this is a site with youngsters on it and also that after a number of years, I’ve had what I needed from the site as well as given as much as I can. I found friends whose work I enjoyed critiquing and they enjoyed doing the same for me. We were able to work more quickly in private queues, re-crit chapters after they’d been reworked and then reread the whole novel if necessary. Without CC I wouldn’t have found the little group of critters I valued so much. None of us were published when we got together and now three of us are and the fourth has finaled twice in a major competition and got an agent!

In 2007 I had my first novel published – and now I’ve had over 20 full length novels published and several shorter pieces as well. One free story has been downloaded over 100,000 times. CC gave me the confidence to believe that I could actually achieve my dreams – a paperback in my hand with my name on it. Of course, my next dream is to walk into some random bookstore and see one of my books!

I don’t have the time now to be on CC as much as I used to. I wish I did have the time to crit more in the queues but I think I paid my dues with over 3,000 critiques. I suspect that my pattern of usage of CC is similar to others who’ve been members for a few years. We learn, share our knowledge and move on.

My one sorrow is that I didn’t know about CC sooner and that I only managed to catch the first wave of epublishing rather than the second. But it’s been quite a journey and I don’t regret a minute of it.


Posted by Barbara Elsborg 8 Nov 2012 at 05:02
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