Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dirty Hands Logic

Every year for as long as I can remember, my extended family and I go camping for our family reunion. Two summers ago, I got to be present for this conversation between my five year old niece and my sister, right after breakfast on the second day. You know... that day when you are really feeling the willies that come from living in the wild without showering for two days.

My niece: "Ooo! Can I do your hair?"

My sister: "Oh. Um... no. Sorry-- my hair is really dirty."

My niece: "That's okay! My hands are really dirty!"

Photo credit
Okay, seriously. How can you argue with that kind of logic?

Choosing who to have do your hair is kind of like choosing critique partners. Instead of finding someone whose hands are the same amount dirty as your hair, you've got to find someone whose skill level is close to your skill level to make the partnership really work. To be able to bring each other up to a higher level. If you partner with someone who is well above your skill level, the things they suggest can be overwhelming or even be something you can't pull off. If you partner with someone well below your skill level, you won't benefit as much from critiques.

Ahh. But when you find a critique partner or a critique group whose skills fit well together, magic happens. You rise together. And if you stick together long enough, you'll rise to the level you've been shooting for, and get to find out what lies beyond that.

Finding critique partners that fit with who and where you are pretty much rocks. I highly recommend it.


Talli Roland said...

I agree! I have a FAB CP and she's become one of my best friends.

Nelson said...

Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts. Congrats for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I'm at
Thanks for sharing!

Cristina said...

great post.. I love the dirty hands analogy. I hope for my hands to get dirtier and dirtier with time :)

cherie said...

Haha! Kids are cute, and what they say sometimes are fantastic truths.

Great post, Peggy. Pretty soon I'll be looking for crit partners. It's a little daunting, actually. Kinda like a job interview, I guess. You want to find the right CP, but at the same time, are you right for them? It has to be two-way. ;)

Kristine said...

And, as my college English teacher always said: Your mom can't be your critique partner - she'll always love everything you do. Haha! Too true.

Jenny S. Morris said...

My CP, and I are still getting to know each other, but I can feel that if we stay in for the long hall, that it could be magic.

Great post.

Leigh Ann said...

I seriously thank God every single day that my first CP agreed to stick her squeaky-clean hands into the muck of the first draft I ever sent her. She has helped me grow so much (and my MS, obviously!) and I think that now I'm finally approaching on her level.

I love looking at all the teams of famous CPs and daydreaming about me and my crew (I have a whopping FOUR reading my next draft!) all having book birthdays in the same year just like they do. After all, I want success for them just as badly as I want it for myself. It's a very good motivator, even if it never comes true.

Jessie Humphries said...

I love my cp...she's smart, patient, hardworking, fun, easy going, and on her way to the big time. With the combo if our other cp who is a rockstar...we are a good team.

Francesca Zappia said...

Great post--I know exactly what you mean. I love all my CPs, just because it always seems like they know exactly what to fix and what to leave. They slap me upside the head when I'm being stupid, and they let me do the same for them.

Honestly, I don't know what I did BCP (Before Critique Partners). It was like the sad dark ages of my writing life. But now everything is sunshine and rainbows and Christmas-flavored ice cream.

David Powers King said...

Getting our hands dirty--that's just what our critique group does. How awesome to tie the two thoughts together. Awesome post, Peggy. :)

I've launched a giveaway today!

Carrie Butler said...

I ♥ my critters. :) You're so right about finding ones that fit.

Also, the kid story was hiladorable (hilarious + adorable)! :)

Iain said...

I'm still on the look out for one :o(
I appear to be in a bit of a wilderness here.
Kid logic is great isn't it :o)

M Pax said...

I found a great group of cp's. They are invaluable.

Shilpa said...

Very nice logic...I just have to find someone who has got dirtier hands than me! :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Talli-- I think that when someone does as much for you as a CP does, it's bound to turn into a great friendship!

Nelson-- Thank you!

Cristina-- I can honestly say I don't think I've heard anyone say that before. :)

Cherie-- It definitely has to be a two-way street. But don't view it as so daunting- I think it mostly happens on its own as you meet other writers (either virtually or in real life). The ones you get along with best miraculously happen to be at the same level as you. It's like magic!

Kristine-- True, but your mom should also be one of your readers BECAUSE of that. :)

Jenny-- Yay! Best of luck with your pending magic!

Leigh Ann-- Oh my gosh. I loved every bit of your comment. CPs are amazing, and I really hope that all my CPs have successes really close together. I really love mine, too.

Jessie-- I love you. A girl sure needs a CP like you!

Francesca-- It sounds like you have some amazing CPs! I mean you don't find sunshine and rainbows and Christmas-flavored ice cream every day. :)

David-- Thanks! And your giveaways are always awesome!

Carrie-- Hehe. Critters. I love that name. Finding ones that fit is definitely the most important thing!

Iain-- Best of luck finding the perfect one(s)! I know there are lots of resources out there... I wish I knew what they were.

M-- That's awesome!

Shilpa-- Haha! Best of luck! Sounds like a great interview question for them. "Exactly how dirty are your hands on a regular basis?" Hehe.