Heidi Chiavaroli is one of my critique partners. While, like me, she's still waiting for that publishing contract, I have to say I've been reading her novels for over four years and her work is marvelous. Today, Heidi shares some wisdom she's picked up along the road she's traveling to publication. -- Sandy
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Heidi: I have a love/hate relationship with critiques, as I think many writers might. I need those critiques, can’t write without them, certainly can’t pass in anything worthy to an agent or editor without that second or third…or fourth pair of eyes. But as a new writer, critiques were my nemesis.
I remember walking up to a table for a critique appointment at the 2010 ACFW Conference. Behind the table, a well-known accomplished historical fiction writer. She’d read my first chapter, had ample time to realize that I was gifted, that nothing in my manuscript needed to be changed, that she must recommend me to her agent. Ummm…yeah, right. Didn’t go exactly as planned.
This author gave me wonderful advice that morning. Unfortunately, her suggestions didn’t make it past my pride. This piece of iron didn’t want to be sharpened. I wanted to stay dull and useless. All I heard was, You can’t write.
Fast forward three years to another appointment, different place, different manuscript, and hopefully a lot of growth—both in my writing and in my heart. This time, when I waited for my appointment and critique, I did so with not quite so much naivety. My critiquer, an author whom I greatly respect, would no doubt tell me everything wasn’t perfect with those sweat-inducing first five pages. She would have suggestions. But this time, I would listen.
I’m learning there’s no room for pride in my writing life (and certainly not in any of my life!)—not if I want to improve, not if I want to humble myself and my work to others and offer it up to the Lord as a worthy sacrifice. Others have been on this road much longer than me. To glean from their knowledge and wisdom is an important step in my own writing career. If I allow myself to be sharpened—and even endure that temporary pain to my pride—then I’m confident I will improve and one day be useful, bearing fruit for God’s kingdom through my writing.
Who has been instrumental in sharpening you as a writer?
Heidi Chiavaroli writes History Woven in Grace. She is a wife, mother, disciple, and grace-clinger. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and pursues the craft of writing by rising before dawn—the only time her house is quiet.