Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Beauty and the Beast: The story of two professional critiques

I was granted a special learning opportunity having my work critiqued by both the beauty and the beast.
As I checked in for my first professional critique nerves took hold and tears tumbled out. Sally and Cindy, the gate keepers, calmed me and bolstered my spirit. When the bell rang twice I walked in and sat across from the very calm presence of Linda Camacho from the Prospect Agency.

  •  Nice sparse illustrations that children will like (Check, she saw and identified my style choice)
  •   Nice sparse wording (Check, identified the writing style I am working at.)
  •   Cute story with marketable qualities (Check, I am trying to choose marketable topics)
  •   BUT (ok)
  • The page turns need improvement in places (ok)
  • The story needs more adversity and the rule of three (Hmmm, I saw it more as a straightforward growth theme, but ok)
  • “What you have done is not a waste of time.” (Nice to hear)
  •   Brainstorming a fix, I pitch an idea. “Intriguing” she said.

I walked out feeling good and within 15 minutes great about being coaxed into working towards a stronger story. This wonderful experience allowed me to calmly walk into my second critique with dry eyes and walk out knowing that the critique method of agent X was abominable.

It was like a blind date with a very off putting man who at the end said, “If your boobs were bigger and your butt was smaller I would date you again. “
  •   “You’re obviously not an illustrator.”  ( A kick to the face would have left me less stunned)
  •   A missed opportunity (Still stunned)
  •   Overused theme  (Can’t think)
  •   Passive aggressive voice (feeling kind of aggressive myself)
  •    Main character creatively stifled by mother  (the book is about creative imagination)
  •    I don’t know what is going on in your drawings (WOW)
  •   Negative  (you sure are)
  •   Clean = good art / messy = bad art   not a marketable message ( not my message)
    I could not have felt more shredded up and spit out. This was exactly the critique that has frightened me for so long. I am proud to say I never cried or became unwound during the critique. The tears and frustration came later, thanks to anyone who commiserated with me and to Super Hero Sally, who informed me this critique was inappropriate and not a standalone incident for this Agent. 

    Knowing I can survive a horrible critique has given me the courage to facing future criticism. Linda’s critique left me inspired to grow and with a new agent on my wish list.