RB – Feedback is GREAT!

I have no idea how to start this journal, I just feel like telling ya’ll some things that have happened over the last few weeks. So I shall jump right into it (and probably jump all over the place in the meantime, pardon my leapfrogging, I am scatterbrained). First, let’s get the sad/grumpy news out of the way, then we can talk about GOOD STUFF:

  • Hives are stupid, allergies are stupid, unknown reasons for hives are stupid, having to use an ozone machine on my whole trailer AGAIN to HOPEFULLY remove the allergens causing the hives is stupid, having a stray cat I adopted that has ringworm who I am treating through all this and who might even be the cause but we can’t be SURE is stupid. But doggonit we are GOING TO WORK IT OUT, and then I can do stuff in my own office again instead of on my laptop, that would be GREAT. Prayers appreciated that I can finally move back into my own dang house soon, and get the place cleaned up so I can regain that sense of well-being that comes with being in your own clean space.
  • After months of furlough, I have finally been officially laid off, so the job hunt continues. Fortunately, my Pop is gonna be my landlord once he gets the trailer title from Grandma, and we are working out a deal where I can do manage the alpaca farm on our property in exchange for rent and other things.
Alpaca GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY
  • Yes, I failed utterly on on my personal challenge to finish the Loneliest Bus Rider short story in two weeks. >.< It’s still on my To-Do list as the next short story I should work on, but too many other things have been vying for my attention that feel more important. I WILL DO IT, THOUGH!
Inspire Game Master GIF by Hyper RPG - Find & Share on GIPHY
  • But ALL THAT ASIDE, I have POSITIVE NEWS! For instance, I HAVE been doing some writing! New work on O&R Part 2 has temporarily paused again, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I’m hoping to work on it a bit for NaNoWriMo in November. (Btw, THANK YOU to those of you who have been reading along with Part 1 weekly! Even just seeing a Like on it encourages me a lot, knowing someone is enjoying the story!)
  • I also applied to and was accepted for the Certificate of Editing program through the University of Chicago! My search for an entry-level job in proofreading and editing these last few months has left me somewhat discouraged and acutely aware of my need for further education and certification in proofreading if I really want to break into this field. Right now it doesn’t start until Spring, but I won’t mind if they can move me up; I certainly have a lot of time right now, and I’m honestly a little excited about LEARNING again! I am terrible at self-discipline, ya’ll, I need a classroom setting even if it’s digital. ^^;;;
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  • I am ALMOST DONE with a VERY big commission/patreon reward for my MLP comic that has literally been in the works since JANUARY. JANUARY. That’s going to be SUCH A BIG WEIGHT OFF MY MIND! I feel so scattered lately jumping from one project to another and never getting any done, so I am champing at the bit to finish!!!
Will Ferrell Yes GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
  • And just last week, I WROTE A NEW SHORT STORY. And thus we get into our chapter title!

As I shared a while back, I had the excitement and honor of being officially published for the first time this past Summer, in the Deep Magic ezine. One of the really cool things that came of this was that the First Reader who discovered my story, Jenna, invited me to join Codex, a writer’s forum for those who have been published at professional rates and want to support each other as they continue building their writing. It took me a while to get into it as I wasn’t used to the format and I didn’t yet have something I wanted to discuss.

But that changed last week when I out of the blue wrote a new short story. This was one of those spur-of-the-moment, lying awake in bed musing over an idea and suddenly realizing I had to write it down NOW or it would NEVER get written sort of things; waiting might have ensured it hit the same procrastination stagnation as my other short stories (including poor Loneliest Bus Rider). The first draft was short, only about 1200 words, and I went to sleep calling it finished.

But the next day, after reading it to my Mom and still feeling pretty happy with it and thinking it would be nice to submit something for publishing again, I knew that I should get some constructive criticism. There had to be ways I could make it STRONGER, y’know? What could I do to make this little fiction something First Readers wouldn’t skim over? How could I best get the point across?

So I went on Codex and found their Critique section. They have a great give-and-take critique system that encourages everyone to give critiques as well as ask for them. I uploaded my first draft there, and BOY DID THEY DELIVER!!! Within a day, I had two or three very constructive critiques!!!

Yes, they were critical. Yes, they pointed out major weaknesses. But they were KIND in how they did it, and they were SPECIFIC, and they gave me real, concrete suggestions to work from. So I went back and wrote a second draft – almost twice as long as the first. There was a particular character point that I had to agree hadn’t been explored properly, and I wanted to see if I could.

I submitted it for critique again. Got two new critiques, and another from someone who had read the first draft. MUCH improved! Some more little ideas for making it stronger! But overall they enjoyed the story and liked my concept and thought it had real promise!

And suddenly I remember how much I LOVE THIS PART OF WRITING! I miss this! Peer review is GREAT, you guys, and I haven’t had it on this level since my college classes. It’s so helpful to get someone else’s perspective, and more than just a ‘that sounds good’ or ‘that didn’t feel right to me’. These were people willing to really dig in and point out ways the story could be improved, and cheer me on while doing it.

Naturally, I made sure to leave a critique for someone else’s story; it’s no fair trying to get and never giving. (Hopefully the other person got something helpful out of my review – I fear I had to be a bit more critical than I enjoy being.) I think I can learn a lot from reading others’ critiques on this site about how to be more specific in my own.

The moral of the story: feedback is really great and motivating! What are some ways that you guys do to stay motivated while you write?

I can’t post the short story I wrote on here yet, as I finished the final draft last night and have submitted it to another ezine. But I shall give ya’ll an excerpt, and I will certainly share it when it becomes available! And I’ll have the next chapter of Outcasts & Runaways up on Monday; we still have 9 more to go before the end of Part 1! (Here’s hoping I make significant new progress on Part 2 before we get there!!!)

Hang loose, my dudes (hush I’ve been to Hawaii a few times),

~Jenn/River

The Horsekiller
(Teaser only)
By Jennifer L. Hilty

He was known among his regiment as the Horsekiller.

The Horsekiller stood with the rest of the archers, on a ridge over another trampled battlefield. A moment before, their arrows had fallen like torrential rain; but the cascade ceased as the king’s army clashed with the Kallim invaders’. It was now their task to snipe and harry the enemy from splitting off to this side in a pincer movement. Each man was reminded of the need to select their shots carefully, lest they hit their own; black banners against Tesserland’s blue were already melding together under blood red and earthy brown. Many in the elite regiment had already reaped the anguish of striking friend over foe in previous conflicts, and had grown more skillful as penance.

At least this day was clear, thin clouds veiling but not blocking the sun and little wind across the craggy lowlands. The Horsekiller’s nearest fellow shot with him, both following their arrows with keen eyes as they redrew.

(TBC…)

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