Imagine being a little kid again making a picture for your mom. You want her to love it- to “ooo” and smile and applaud you as the next da Vinci. You labor over every line and carefully write “mom” in your best handwriting. Once you’ve added glitter, it’s ready to go. You head toward mom in high hopes, artwork held out in front of you.
Now imagine you’re me at nineteen years old and feel the same way about your writing. This coming Wednesday, I will be attending a Jerry B. Jenkins Thick-Skinned Critique Webinar where he will be evaluating my words. Think about that, for a second: Thick-Skinned Critique. A little intimidating, no?
To appropriately appreciate the scariness of this, let’s first establish who Jerry B. Jenkins is. Here’s part of the biography from his website, www.jerryjenkins.com:
Jerry B. Jenkins, former editor of Moody Magazine, vice president for publishing, and now chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, is the author of more than 175 books, including the 70,000,000-selling Left Behind series. (Catch that number? Seventy million?)
Jenkins’s writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of Christian periodicals. He also serves as a contributing editor to Writer’s Digest. (Getting that he’s a big deal yet?)
Jenkins also owns the Christian Writers Guild (www.ChristianWritersGuild.com), which aims to train tomorrow’s professional Christian writers and has more than 1,000 members worldwide. The centerpiece of the Guild is an e-mail correspondence course tailored to fit the busiest lifestyle. Each student is personally mentored by a seasoned professional via e-mail throughout the two-year program. Courses are also available for writers aged 8-12 and for teens.
Here’s where I come in. I’m a member and student of the Guild, so I get the chance to participate in their monthly webinars. Usually I participate by watching other people’s work get brutalized. This time I’m one of them.
Jerry B. Jenkins will critique four two-page writing samples while those who paid for the webinar observe. What does that mean? That means my writing is going to be seen by not only one of the best Christian authors out there, but by a lot of other people too. Scary. Oh, and going to be critiqued by him. Scarier.
I’ve attended quite a few of these webinars before, so I know he’s not going to sugarcoat anything. He calls it like he sees it, and his compliments are rare. Of course, people are paying for a thick-skinned critique. They want to know what’s wrong with the writing, not right.
In the description for this webinar, Jerry B. Jenkins is called: “Honest and direct, but never mean.” That’s true. I’ve never seen him be mean. But I haven’t seen him go soft either. He is definitely direct.
I’m preparing myself by toughening up said epidermis. No matter how much I may treasure my own writing, I am completely aware of its flaws. I know I am nowhere near a professional, so I’m sure Jerry Jenkins will find much to correct. As much as I’d like someone with Mr. Jenkins’ expertise to ooo and ahh over my writing, I have enough humility to admit it won’t happen.
I am nowhere near the level he is, so I expect plenty of editing, scrapping, and humiliation. (I do remain anonymous, so at least I’ll be anonymously humiliated.)
But I know it will be for my good. As I said, I am aware my writing has flaws, but what a privilege to have him show me where they’re at! I want to be the best I can be with the gift God has given me, and if that means letting go of my pride and allowing someone with more experience show me how I can be better, awesome. In that case, may the thickening begin!
Besides, look at this guy… he won’t be too hard on me… will he?(Check back on either Wednesday night or Thursday to see how it went!)