Monday, August 1, 2011

The Leaning Tower of Critique-a

Remember the time I gave a very public demonstration of my tendency to leap before looking? That would be this post in which I made an open offer of crit to the world at large. Very soon after I put that post up, five g-chat windows opened looking a little like this:

Window 1: ARE YOU CRAZY?

Window 2: YOU ARE CRAZY.

Window 3: Put a cap on it or TAKE IT DOWN!

Window 4: omgomgomgomgomgomgOOOOOOMG

Window 5: O_O

To which I responded, "Oh, pshhhh, you're over-reacting. It will be fine." Because I didn't really think I could possibly get more than 20 or 30. . .  I wasn't just wrong, I was VERY wrong. And I soon decided the best course of action (for my sanity) was not to think about it all in terms of numbers, but to simply move through them as systematically as possible.

It took me a little longer than I thought, but my reading time was punctuated by having previously agreed to 3 full manuscript crits, one busy trip to New Orleans for ALA, and one trip to Minneapolis where I joined Tessa, Maggie, and her husband for a short leg of their tour during which I was made to sleep below the water line in an old tug boat where alligators scratched at the hull by my ear all night long. What? You think there are no alligators in Minneapolis? I think you're wrong! 
But that's neither here nor there, I want to talk about numbers. The stone cold stats of my recent insanity.

Ready? Go!

Total number of 5k submissions received: 59 (which I think should be spelled fifty-FREAKING-nine)

The fruit breakdown: 
Coconuts: 39 (SO MANY COCONUTS!)
Applenuts: 3 (yes, 3 separate people created a new category to break my brain)
Apples: 12
Peaches: 5
Number of characters named Lily: 13 
First crit sent out on 6/14
Last crits sent out on 7/30

Words read: 295,000
Total word count on 59 crit letters: 62,208 <- I feel like I should point out, that is a NOVEL. O_O
Now that I'm done, they're sort of gratifying to see. I don't really want to jump in and repeat the activity anytime soon, but I did learn a lot by doing this and perhaps more importantly, I got to meet a lot of talented writers I might not have otherwise. So, a big thank you to everyone who was brave enough to send me their work! Thinking through your stories has been both immensely enjoyable and immensely helpful and I'm grateful to every one of you!  
And now, I will buckle down and do nothing but write my fingers silly for the next several months.  

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