Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Perils of a PB Critiquer. (I know, that isn't a word, but it should be)

I have spent a great deal of time, during the past couple of years, studying, enjoying and learning from the blogs of other folks who write for children. I can honestly say that I would not have persevered without their wisdom and inspiration. So... I have decided that it is my turn to give back by encouraging others, sharing resources and building a community.

I could spend my first post telling you why I think it is important to have a blog (aside from the above statement, of course), but we all know that. I have decided, instead, to relay an experience that I had yesterday - an inevitable side effect to this journey of writing for children.

I had the opportunity, last night, to spend a rare 30 minutes in one of my favorite places: Barnes and Noble. Thirty minutes? Seriously? It was all I could do to tear myself away once I got there. Intent on capitalizing on every second, I planted myself in front of the New Release Picture Books. To study those lucky folks who (in my mind, anyway) have accomplished a dream.

I declared yesterday that I was making an "Old Year's Resolution", because I didn't want to wait for the new year to start: "I will get a literary agent!" Did you hear me? I WILL DO IT!

As an active critique participant and one who changes her own work often (several time a day sometimes) to follow all the "rules", I have honed my skills. I am one of the weird ones who actually enjoys ripping apart my work and that of others.... and, ultimately, seeing the end result. It is so exciting to see a project go from idea to an amazing story.

So... back to the bookstore. Last night, unfortunately, I found myself reading the beautifully glossy new PBs with a critical eye. And guess what? I didn't enjoy them nearly as much. I was, instead, picking out every little thing that I had been cautioned against. "Hey... wait... I thought PBs were supposed to state the problem right away" or "the MC didn't solve her own problem."  What I should have been saying was, "Hey... I really liked/didn't like that story."

I was cursing myself for this behavior when (honestly... this really happened), I heard a "blip" from my phone. A message from a new crit partner. It said, "Thanks for the suggestions! I'm honestly not trying to butter you up here, but 99% of ever comment you make I go "duh, why didn't I think of that?" You're the best! Back to revisions."  :)

Okay, so maybe the revision/critique process has tainted my abilities to read and enjoy PBs in quite the same way, but if I can continue to help and be helped by others..... it's all worth it. After all, there is no way I could do this alone. So, thanks to all of my critique partners. You're the best!!!


  1. I love this! I find myself doing the same thing, analyzing books I'm just supposed to be enjoying. I wish we could turn off that part of our brains sometimes. :)

  2. I do the same thing. By the way, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You may find all the information here.


  3. Thanks, ladies!
    Thanks for the nomination, Jackie.

  4. I find myself doing this too! I also love the 'new' children's book section in my library, and find myself enjoying the books, admiring the authors who've made it, and hoping we make it real soon :)!