Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lessons from Renting

 Over the years, I have lived in many a rented house. Though it is not always my preferred state of things, I have learned a few things:
  • I don't like hardwood floors. I thought I would. I think they look lovely . . . but I am not fastidious enough about cleaning them. And every. single. speck. of dust. shows. Yup, not for me.
  • White carpet just doesn't work for me.
  • Carpet in the bathroom . . . not so much.
  • I crave closets. Lots of them! Even better is a closet with hooks on the sides or built-in shelves.
  • Closet in the shower, though? I'll pass on that one (and yes, true experience).
  • Central heating/AC is an absolute must.
  • I love window nooks.
  • But I don't do nooks along stairways. Sure they're cute, but with kids . . . I'm constantly getting visions of ER trips.
  • Absolutely no indoor wood-paneling. Anywhere.
  • I don't like a circle set-up in the house because it will always become a speedway for kids with the hospital being the final stop more often than not.
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm rambling on about my housing likes and dislikes. Here's the thing. It kindof reminds me of critiquing . . .

When you critique someone else's work, it's easier to see the problems. And it's easier to see what is well-done. It just is. You aren't married to it like you are with your own work, and you can use a more discerning eye.

Personally, I can't tell you how much I have learned about my own writing by critiquing others' work. Both from the good and from the bad. Critiquing is not just helping someone else, it's helping yourself.

Do you have critique partners? What have you learned from critiquing others' work?


Old Kitty said...

I love wooden floors but I do see what you mean about all the fluff showing! LOL!

I'm a rubbish critiquer (it's definitely a skill I don't have.) but I owe my writerly progress to a couple of really fair and encouraging CPs! I say once you find them, hang on to them! They're like gold dust!

Take care

Anonymous said...

Yay! Finally, someone else who doesn't like wood floors! I. Don't. Like. Dust. And. I. Don't. Like. To. Sweep.

Janet, I don't have a critique partner, but I have critiqued the work of others. And, yes, it does shed light on my own work after I have gone through someone else's with a critical eye.

Carolyn V said...

A shower in the closet? That's a new one.

I'm in two crit groups and they are amazing! They help me so much.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I shower in a closet :)

Critiquing is a great exercise for writing, I think. Because you're exactly right that it's easier to see problems in someone else's work, but you also have to be able to pick out exactly what isn't working and articulate it in a way that will be helpful, which in turn can help you have new insights into your own writing.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

We have Brazilian cherry wood floors...they are beautiful, but omgoodness they show every piece of hair our dear dog sheds. :(

Nothing helps me get out of a slump like critiquing someone else's manuscript.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I like critiquing others work because it gives me perspective on my own writing. Also, I realize that I'm not as bad a writer as I thought I was. There are others that are worse.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I wish I had a critique partner. I'm not not "there" yet. About to begin the revision phase of my manuscript. When I finish that, I'll be on the prowl for a critique partner.

Slamdunk said...

Good topic Janet. I can relate to the hardwood floors, but we use lots of throw rugs to break things up and ease the look when we don't clean as well as we should.

Margo Berendsen said...

I know what you mean about wooden floors, but I still love them. (helpful hint: lighter wood floors with lots of texture really help disguise a lot!)

And I sooooo know what you mean about the circular speedway. Esp. dangerous with above-mentioned wooden floors.

Amen for critiquing.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to have hardwood floors. Great post.

R. Garrett Wilson said...

To anyone who lives in the Fresno, CA area (within the USA is close enough in my opinion) and is a writer, you should check out the Fresno Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) for at least one meeting. Even if it is a flight from coast to coast, it will be worth it. Even if you aren't a SciFi or Fantasy writer, FSFW will still have much to offer. They are a critique group. They masquerade as a writing group, but they don't write when they get together, they share critiques, and they are very good at it. Someone submits their work a week before the meeting, everyone goes after it with a pen, and everyone gets to hear the best and worst from a group of people who are avid readers and writers. You learn from the shared critiques. You learn from critiques of your work as well as the works of others. And, if you continue to work with them, you start to learn as much about your writing from the critiques you give as you do from the ones you receive or hear.

Janet, I can’t agree more with you post. You do learn by spending time in someone else’s work, just as you learn when someone else spends time looking at what you do and shares their thoughts. I believe writers should critique others’ work as often as their own work is critiqued - it makes them better writers.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Such a great post, Janet, and so true! I think when we know what it feels like to be disengaged from a work when we're critiquing others, we can learn to find that same state with our own work. Of course, there are times when we have to be very close to our work, like when we're writing it, but you're absolutely right, practicing with other people's manuscripts help us with our own. (And I hope this comment makes sense because I'm really tired. ha ha!)