Friday, November 5, 2010

The Greatest Compliment

Before I start, you have to go to Musings from Jen and check out the youtube "Facebook Etiquette." It is a solid four minutes of laughing and totally worth it. If I can figure out how to post it, I will.

I've received a couple of compliments over my years as a writer. One of my favorites was from my postman Smiley Steve.

"It's like a real book," said with just a trace of astonishment about Star of Justice.

Thank you.

TT: Once upon a time, my automatic response to compliments was "I know." My Best Friend elbowed me every time I said it until I learned to say "Thank you" instead. Took a lot of years. In the interests of full disclosure, "I know" was the first thing I wrote while writing this post, so my Best Friend has some supplementary training to do. Hope my ribs can handle it.

But the greatest compliment I have received so far came from The Lioness in her recent edit of Elementals.

She wrote, "You mention this a lot. Are you doing this on purpose?"

That is why I love her. The respect.

You see, she gave me the benefit of the doubt. It was something that struck her as too much, but she wasn't sure if that's what I was trying to do. Carefully, respectfully, she questioned it.

The only real way to insult me is to question my competence. It's the Bane of the Beaver personality type to be seen as incompetent. Lacking proficiency, possibly. Ignorant, occasionally. Incompetent?
Them's fightin' words.

I've kept that question in mind while editing Elementals. Am I doing this on purpose? Is this necessary? Can I show this some other way? It has resulted in some cutting. Not severe enough possibly, but some.

I hope one day to practice this same respect with other writers. Another Bane of the Beaver is a clinical detachment when speaking from areas of perceived competence (for non-Turtles, that means I don't care about your feelings when I think you're wrong). I want to "help" people correct their "errors," and I'm not always nice (or right) about it.

Fortunately, I have a tiny bit of caring Retriever in me so I figured this out early and keep my Beaver side muzzled most of the time. Not always.

This is why I will never offer myself as a copy editor. Just because I think I'm right doesn't mean I am. I restrain my critiques to plot holes or impressions and leave it up to the author to decide what -if anything- they will do about it.

My goal as a critique partner will be to practice the same competence in respect I have admired from others.

And, Lioness, yes I was, and yes it was too much. I've modified it. ;) Thanks for the respect.

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