A little while back I sent a chapter to my critique group. I wrote this particular story, a MG adventure story, years ago, but it never felt quite right. I let it sit for a long time, always planning to get back to it, and occasionally pulling it out to mull over just what wasn’t working. The idea was (and still is) great, but it lacked spark.
A couple months ago I pulled it out and started rewriting it, changing the POV and the narration. It worked so much better, in my opinion, but I wanted to know what my critique group thought.
And they…didn’t love it.
Like, really didn’t love it.
Of course, they openly admitted that middle grade isn’t their thing. They don’t read it, they don’t write it, and they don’t particularly enjoy it.
So…then what? What do you do with that kind of feedback? Especially coming from people you trust?
I admit, I was rather crushed by it. After all, I loved the story, couldn’t they at least kinda, sorta, maybe like it? Just a little bit? I sulked about it for a while before realizing that I still loved it, regardless of what they thought, and that was enough.
There is no guarantee that any manuscript will find an agent or sell, even if your critique group and beta readers absolutely adore it. But I’ve learned that one of the worst things you can do is revise your manuscript to try to fit someone else’s vision for it. I have manuscripts that I revised, well, to death trying to make them match up with what I thought someone else wanted instead of what I wanted. When I did that, it sucked the life out of the story.
So write for you. Write what you love because, in the end, yours is the only opinion that matters. _________________________________________
Jenilyn Collings loves to read and write things that are humorous or romantic (preferably both). She has worked as a dental researcher, a florist, a martial arts instructor, and a tracker at an alternative high school (she’ll leave it to your imagination what that entailed), but she’s now focused on writing and child wrangling. A long time resident of the Mountain West, she recently moved to New England with her family where she is gaining an appreciation for umbrellas, fall colors, and turning lanes while driving