The M.R. Jordan Winter Writing Contest and Critique is here.
During my first year in Korea a friend of mine gave me a book by Terry Pratchett to read. The book was entertaining but I remember telling her that I didn't think Terry Pratchett was a very good writer. Often when we look back on ourselves we see a child that thought he or she knew a lot more than they did. So it has come to pass that I was wrong. Dead wrong. At the time I was still clutching at the writer's rule book with the same enthusiasm as a religion bound bible thumper. I thought the closer to the line a writer wrote, the better they were. (Well fledgling writers are required to say and do and think lots of stupid things. It's a rite of passage.)
There were holes in my picture. The rules gave me something fill up the holes, but whatever rules your critique group gives a writer, remember that these are not mandates. They are merely a place to start. The collective skills of story telling, which describes what you are trying to far better than writing, are vast. Everybody needs a place to start. But there is a wall you will hit again and again. It is yourself. You will get in the way of yourself a 1000 times and 10,000 times.
And that brings me to the biggest obstacle you will ever face. Pride.
As simple of as "I was wrong" is to say, few people who can set aside their ego (as defined by Freud) and admit they were wrong. If you're a writer you'll spend years chasing your own tail. If your a customer service rep, you'll spend a lot of time arguing with customers... the list of examples is long.
So Terry Pratchett I was wrong. You're effing awesome! As my regular readers know, I reserve cursing for my young adults books. (This picture was intentionally skewed.)
My Terry Pratchett story is Nation. If you have not read this book, you should. The audio version is really great too. These days I aspire to write something as awesome.