May 9 2011

Oh, Baby!

Melissa Crytzer Fry

I was told that I was an ugly baby. In fact, my nickname was Jiminy Cricket. Thank God I don’t still have a shriveled insect-shaped face.

But I digress… the whole notion of pretty and ugly babies popped up – quite literally – a few weeks ago as I passed by the large, lone saguaro that stands only about 15 feet away from a busy state route highway.

Poised in front of Arizona’s majestic Santa Catalina Mountains, the saguaro is memorable not only because of its stately arms and towering height, but also because of the giant saucer-shaped nest of twigs and branches jutting from among the prickly arms of the saguaro.

On this particular day as I was headed to the airport, I was sure I’d seen two fluffy white heads bobbing about. Or, I thought, maybe it was just wishful thinking since my husband, who drives past this saguaro daily, could not confirm my sighting later that morning. Nor could my subsequent drive bys.

Ever since I noticed the nest last year – and its homeowner, a beautiful great horned owl – I’ve kept vigilant watch. And on Friday, I confirmed that those furry heads were, indeed, babies.

Great horned owls ‘borrow’ existing nests (in this case, it appears to be a raven’s nest). Owlet on right, mama on left. Click to enlarge.

So what can this adorable owlet possibly have to do with ugly babies, you wonder? Fortunately for great horned owls, they are among the more entitled in the birdosphere, as their babies hatch with beautiful downy tuft. They enter the world looking like soft, squeezable, ball-shaped feather dusters (which, of course, will later become fearsome predators).

My suspicion is that at least two owlets call this nest their home (until they fledge). Click to enlarge to see second ‘head’ behind baby in foreground.

Other bird brethren, when born, come out looking a bit more like death: completely featherless, bulging eyes sealed shut by thin-membrane eyelids, painfully large beaks, bony legs as delicate as glass toothpicks, veins crisscrossing over translucent tender sheets of skin. Soon, though, like The Ugly Duckling story of our youth, they transform, no longer those ugly babies they once were … more like the great horned owlets that capture our hearts from the start (when we’re privileged enough to see them).

For Writers: Can you recognize when your baby (and by baby, I mean, your WIP) is ugly? Or are the mama blinders on? After all … you did give birth to this thing. You spent lots of time with it. Breathed life into it. Disciplined it. Molded it. Nurtured it.

I obviously was incapable of making this “ugly-beautiful” distinction during my earlier days of fiction writing. One of the readers of my first novel actually said these exact words about my ending chapters: “I’m sorry that you were disappointed by my remarks. No one likes to hear that her baby is not adorable …” Ouch.

When I finished my grousing over her tough-love comments – and once I walked away from the ending chapters for two months – I realized, with horror, that my defensive posturing about my baby was totally unfounded. When I re-read my ending with fresh eyes, it became painfully clear that she was right. My baby was UGLY … uglier than a mud fence, as my mom would say (are mud fences ugly?).

What about you and your baby? Do you want to hear that honest truth, or would you rather have people fuss, ooohhhing and awwing over your baby’s cute face, chubby toes, and adorable smile (while they cross their fingers behind their backs)? How do you find the right amount of objectivity when it comes to your baby?


59 Responses to “Oh, Baby!”

  • avatar V.V. Denman Says:

    When I first started writing, I was insecure and needed much undeserved praise. Fortunately, my friends and family were good liars. When I started submitting my work to critique groups and agents, I gradually developed a thicker skin. Now I look back at my first attempts and cringe. My friends were being outrageously kind. But it served its purpose at the time. Now I have a different problem: I’m not satisfied with anything I write for fear it’s an ugly baby. Thank goodness for critiques groups, they keep things in perspective. 🙂

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    Melissa Reply:

    I agree with you about the value of crit groups, which is why I’m looking for a local one now. For years, I have worked with a writing partner throughout my novel and another partner once the draft is complete (a small group, of sorts). But since one partner is getting her MFA now (but STILL helping me), I figured I’d give her a bit of a break and seek out a local group. (BTW – we’re very alike, V.V. I needed that early praise, too – and am now ultra critical of my work).

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    Great post which reminds me once again that I need a writing coach….because sad to say I tend to lean in the other direction–thinking almost all my “writing babies” are ugly. So, I’m not at all objective; in fact if someone tells me something I write is good, I tend to discount their sense of beauty! Working on objectivity is yet another of my WIPs, so I can learn to be realistic about what I write and how good it is. (p.s. the owl babies are beautiful!)

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    Melissa Reply:

    The whole objectivity thing is so, so difficult to master. I’m still learning, too, Julia. I guess, as writers, we are all works in progress! Glad you liked the pics of the babies!

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  • avatar Erika Marks Says:

    Melissa, you never cease to brighten my mornings with your pictures–and the owls! Unbelievable!

    And I love the connection you make–because it’s very true. How do we REALLY know? We need to love it, to feel that connection if it’s to survive and thrive, but it can be so hard to get perspective. We get rejections for our work, peppered with bursts of encouragement, be it from agents or editors or critique partners–and it can be so hard not to second guess ourselves every step of the way. At this point in my writing, I think I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. But I’m not always sure…that self-doubt never really goes away, I suspect. No matter how long we write.

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    Melissa Reply:

    You have NO idea how excited I was when I saw the fuzzy bobbing heads! Nearly wrecked the truck on the first sighting :-). And I can’t tell you how HAPPY I am that I can share my desert experiences and photos with others. For the longest time, they were simply in my head, and filed away in iPhoto. I’m tickled that others are even remotely interested in what I’m seeing, thinking, experiencing. It’s been such a gift!

    You are so right about the difficulty of finding perspective – esp. in light of rejections AND supportive comments. I am QUEEN of second-guessing my writing but, like you, feel I’m slowly gaining a firmer hold on what does and doesn’t work. I agree that it will never go away, but at least we can try to tame it.

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  • avatar Lisa Carter Says:

    Pretty, ugly… Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, right? That’s one of the things I find hardest: one writing group might be very complimentary of my essay, a writer friend might slash it to bits (all in the name of constructive criticism, of course!). I’m sometimes left feeling I have no idea whether a piece is good or bad. Distance helps with objectivity, but it certainly is hard! Great topic, Melissa.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh BOY do I hear you, Lisa, about the conflicting messages from critique groups. When I first started in one (and being a people pleaser), I felt compelled to make EVERYONE’S corrections … that is, until I realized I was no longer writing the story I wanted to write. Who knew that some feedback should NOT be taken? I think this is all part of the process of growing as a writer. But, you’re right. It IS hard. Thank you for stopping by!

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  • avatar mo Says:

    Oh wow, I hope my babies arent ugly! But I also hope I have the character to recognize if they are, and to listen to others if theyre trying to tell me.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I think you eloquently stated the hope of all writers: that our babies aren’t ugly! Thanks for commenting. See you on Twitter!

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  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    Melissa, Great photos! Love owls. Lucky you, to get to see them up close in the wild!
    So funny you wrote about lack of objectivity in this week’s blog…so did I. LOL!
    When we are starting out as writers a little encouragement is helpful to keep us going. But at some point we need to develop our own ability to ‘tell’ if what we have written is good or not. Critique groups can help, but reading as much as possible is the best yard stick, in my opinion. It creates an inner Geiger counter we can test our work against.
    This is one of the major problems with self publishing. Too many are publishing novels that are not the equals of traditionally published novels.
    One of your best posts ever!

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    Shawna Reply:

    I agree… reading is the best teacher. It’s wholly by example – you can’t lecture that in a classroom setting.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Cynthia,
    I couldn’t agree with you more that the work of others is a great measuring stick by which to measure your own work. Excellent point! I also add my long-held mantra that “Good writers are readers” ( I was always floored in undergrad by the people who just decided to major in English because “there was no other major to pick.” What? Have you ever read a book?) And wow … my best post ever! I’m blushing (and dancing). [Your blog was pretty darn great today, too!]

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  • avatar Shawna Says:

    I’ve always heard that ugly babies make the most beautiful adults. 🙂

    But in talking about writing, I tend to be my own very harsh critic. Then I let my family (particularly my dad) read my stuff, because no matter what, he is my best critic and he will lay it on the line. Then there is my sister, who has told me in the past, “I know you’re a good writer, but I don’t understand you.” Then Jeff, who will listen to me read it to him, and then give me some great constructive criticism. I think they all know what I need is not a good coating of sugar.

    But on the OTHER kind of baby… my son was adopted. And while “no mother wants to hear that her baby is ugly” (as per the “critic” that you mentioned), I – having no clue what to expect when I saw a newborn for the first time (he was a preemie, we had literally been “matched” 3 weeks earlier, no time to go through Lamaze or any such thing) – was HORRIFIED when the nurse handed him to me. It was HYSTERICAL! I’ve got photos of me holding this little purple simian-creature who was coated with downy hair all over his squished face, eyebrows that started above the eye and ended at the back of his head, and covered with nasty cottage-cheese stuff, my (now ex) husband standing over one shoulder beaming with happiness, my sister over the other shoulder crying tears of joy, and me staring horrified and totally grossed out wondering if he’d cooked long enough.

    He is, of course, now a very handsome 17-year-old and the eyebrows situated themselves nicely after about a week.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thanks for kissing up, Shawna, about ugly babies being beautiful adults. You’re always good for a laugh, my friend. I’m with you on the critiques, though … don’t sugar coat it. If it sucks, TELL ME.

    And, you may be one of the only people to admit that your baby didn’t look “perfectly beautiful” when you first laid eyes on him. So happy this his eyebrows worked out ;-).

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  • avatar Kim Says:

    Lovely… I really need to come by more often and immerse myself in your photography, especially when I’m having days when I miss the southwest.

    I think you hit on something important in your “baby” story–you took time away from your work and you were able to see it with new eyes. It’s incredibly difficult to discern what’s ugly and what’s not when I’m still feeling close to the writing process. I have to forget how I worded things and the rhythms of my sentences before I can make an honest appraisal of what I’ve written. And it might also depend on how I feel the day I read it–I might see Major Prose Sensation on every page or if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed I see 250pp of Mud Fence.

    I’ve had critique partners who loved and hated the same work, and when I get over the emotional swing of that particular cocktail, I take what’s useful and try to leave the rest behind. Although I value the input of people who are writing books of their own, I find feedback from readers-not-writers to be insightful, too. They’re a little more blunt than writer-critiquers, but they don’t care about the process and the writing rules–they care about the results. It’s refreshing.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh YES… Time away from my WIP (for me, at least) is critical to my own objectivity. Sometimes it’s amazing what even a few days can do. Like you, though, my attitude toward what I write seems to fluctuate with the direction the wind is blowing (making me wonder, “will I ever be truly objective??” Maybe that just isn’t realistic since we’re human.)

    It took me a while to learn what you’ve learned – to take the good, discard the bad- from crit groups … A painful learning experience for me, but one that allowed me to come out the other side a better writer, I think. Oooh… and what an interesting point about reader-only critiques. I bet their perspective is SO valuable.

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling unwell. Get yourself better, OK?

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  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    When I was five years old, my mother rescued a family of baby owls that had been knocked out of their nest by a snake (and a few of them eaten). We fed them raw hamburger through needleless syringes, then released them. It was an amazing experience, and they were absolutely beautiful.

    Right now I am experiencing terrible insecurity when it comes to my novel, which I fear ISN’T beautiful. Just this morning I sent it to my first Beta reader (beside my husband), and as soon as I hit Send, I thought I was going to throw up.

    What if it’s ugly? What if it’s a cone-head, and I never could see it? What if it pukes on her?

    I know many writers experience this insecurity whenever it comes to their “baby,” but I do find solace in the fact that my husband’s fierce honesty when editing helped me form my baby into a more aesthically pleasing being.

    I hoped it worked. We shall see!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I am so jealous of the baby barn owls (though we had some last year behind our house. They also are so, so cute). How wonderful that you nursed them to health and released them into the wild.

    I vividly recall that feeling of sending out the WIP to readers for the first time. A bit nerve-wracking, but a necessary evil (and I’m sure you’ll be getting some great, supportive feedback soon that will put your mind at ease). Laughing at your cone-head and puking comments though. You’re good at personification even in your comments!

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  • avatar Sara Says:

    I truly enjoy your nature-based metaphors paired with your amazing photography. I find your questions stick with me for a long time, and relate so much to different aspects of life! During this post I found myself thinking about relationships and marriages, how much time we invest in them, and what happens if we are confronted with altering them. But I won’t unleash all that on your blog 🙂

    My very new WIP is hideous. Completely grotesque. It’s a tragic ugly, but I can see it becoming beautiful. I also just recently joined a local writers group so have yet to receive formal critiques, but I feel really open to anything that helps me grow.

    My new ugly WIP is going to be in the nest a long time, but I will stay and take care of it! 🙂

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    Melissa Reply:

    What a wonderful compliment, Sara. Thank you. It means a lot to know my questions “stick” after a post (and that someone other than me is enjoying the photos I snap like crazy). I think that’s what I like most about writers reading blogs … that they can each take something so different away from a particular message; this is the same of novel interpretations (the beauty of the written word in action!). I love that this post also inspired you to think about marriage and relationships.

    I doubt your WIP is grotesque. I bet it will be a beautiful swan when you’re done. Love the nest analogy and staying by your baby; thanks for playing along with me, you mathematician, you!

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  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    I want a baby owl! Those are too cute!

    I think when I first started writing, I was somewhat blind to when my baby was ugly, but now I’m very critical of my writing, and even during critique, I value the harsh criticism so much more than the “it’s great! it’s beautiful!” feedback, especially when I know it still needs work. There’s a very difficult balance: you need to be able to listen to the harsher criticism, but you need to believe in yourself enough to listen when the work’s actually ready.

    I think deep down we all know when that point has come. For me, I only started querying when I got to a point that I was proud of the work, felt I’d done the best I could, and my writer’s group agreed. There had been times when I’d gotten great feedback, but I still felt I could make it better, so I kept revising. We have to be honest to ourselves and each other to find that balance.

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    Melissa Reply:

    So right, Natalia. It took me years to figure out that balance and to STOP trying to please everyone. At some point, you need to take ownership and, as you said, believe in your abilities as a writer. No easy task!

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  • avatar Beverly Diehl Says:

    Great post, beautiful pictures.

    The first time I got (very gentle, in retrospect) critique of my terribly ugly baby, I was horrified. Cut off his legs to make him fit in the crib? Stretch him out here, there, and everywhere?

    Oh, but we sooooo need it!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh, Beverly … I laughed so hard at the image of cutting off his legs to make him fit in the crib, and stretching him out here, there and everywhere. As you said, a necessary evil!

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  • avatar Camille Noe Pagán Says:

    I love this metaphor, Melissa–and the owls! Personally, I think it’s healthy for me to ignore the fact that my WIP is ugly; otherwise, I’d get caught up in perfecting every word and never get the first draft done. (I am a big believer in Anne Lamott’s “write a sh***y first draft” technique). Later, after some distance, I can go back and make it shine. All that said, I am usually good about knowing when a story just isn’t working–and in that case, I don’t try to push through it just for the sake of doing so.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I SO wish I could write like Anne Lamott suggests, but I AM that person who perfects every sentence, every paragraph as I go (I’ve always been the same way with my magazine writing. I can’t seem to help myself). I obviously still edit and polish after draft one, but it’s a little less messy that way.

    I agree with you that there is NO sense in pushing through if something’s not working. That’s simply wasted time, and we know that time is a rare commodity (esp. for you with your little ones!)

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  • avatar Leah Says:

    Great post and very thought-provoking. While I don’t think I had blinders on with respect to my writing (I always seem to be a perfectionist), reading some of my older work now, I can for sure see how it’s evolved and gotten better. So maybe blinders? Or just improvement over time? By the way, those baby owls are adorable!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    You make such a good point, Leah, about the way we grow as writers. It’s amazing what practice can do for the craft!

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  • avatar Nina Says:

    OMG–those pictures!!!!! And yes, I CAN see the ugly, sometimes I only see the ugly and have a hard time seeing anything else!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I suffer the same curse. Some days, I feel like everything I put on paper is complete crap. Good thing writers persevere!

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  • avatar Tracy Says:

    Posting on Twitter that your post had over 100 hits got me here, so something is working. =)
    That was a great analogy between babies and our WIP “baby.” At times it’s difficult for me to look at my first draft and see it as needing many revisions. Other times it’s not a problem, usually the flow just isn’t there. I do feel that if I were to look at my draft and think it was horrendous, I might not have the drive to move forward. I would probably feel as if I couldn’t move forward.
    I found that in my first completed short story, there were quite a few revisions needed, but I enjoyed thinking it was good in the beginning. That’s what allowed me to finish. Those who critiqued it helped me make it even better. I hope I wasn’t completely blind when I submitted it! =/

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    It was actually 150+ hits. Woo hoo. And thank YOU for stopping by as well, Tracy. What a great point about feeling good AS you write, and how that feeling motivates you to continue. I think we are ALL that way, to an extent, when we think about it. And your point about “flow” is well taken. When things are flowing, it’s such a great sense of accomplishment, isn’t it?

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  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Melissa… I don’t know why I am wary of people praising my work. I always feel they are being polite. On the other hand though I do have my mama blinkers on, I am still seeing my babies (stories and WIP) with over critical eyes. I am just going through a collection of stories I had written three years back, all I will say is I am less blinded by the beauty of my baby and more aware of its faults.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I think it’s the self-doubt we all have, as writers. I don’t know why it’s so hard to have an accurate filter for your own work, but it IS! It is amazing what a little bit of time can do to give us perspective of the things we’ve written. Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be heading over to your blog soon. I see you’ve been able to use my photos! Yay.

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  • avatar Erika Robuck Says:

    I’ve been on both sides of this. Sometimes I think something I’ve written is shimmering perfect, and my writing partner will say, “huh?” Other times, I think it’s horrendous, and she’ll think it’s brilliant. Often, when I’m humble and worried about my work it’s the best stuff I produce.

    I love your photograph and owl tie-in. Great post!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I can relate to the ‘both sides of the fence’ nature of this, too, which makes it all the more frustrating to determine ‘how’ to be objective about your own work. Thanks for stopping by, Erika. Hope the new WIP is going well.

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  • avatar Stephanie Alexander Says:

    This cracks me up! Makes me think of my very first first draft. I basically proofread it and then let about ten people read it! They were relatively kind…but seriously? Now I cringe when I read my OWN first drafts!

    So the answer is, once upon a time I did have blinders. I’ve gone the opposite way lately. I don’t think I’ll be able to let anyone read the new book until somewhere around draft twenty!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    You’re too funny. I’m sure it won’t take till draft 20 … I mean, look, girl – you have an agent now! You’re definitely doing something right. Woo hoo.

    By the way … talk about embarrassing…. In the above-mentioned scenario about the end of my book, I actually had the audacity to say to this reader that I was disappointed because I thought my ending verged on brilliance. Ack. Talk about pompous, and a big ol’ dose of humble pie when it was all said and done. The first ending was far from brilliant. It was plain, old suckiness.

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  • avatar Amanda Hoving Says:

    I have a much clearer vision of what’s ugly and what’s not if I’ve left my “babies” to fend for themselves for awhile and come back with fresh eyes. I do want my critique partners to be truthful…in a very sweet, kind, and supportive way 😉

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. We are one in the same; couldn’t have said it better myself.

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  • avatar Shakirah Dawud Says:

    I tend to believe babies are ugly until proven (at the very least) not by readers, clients, and editors. I’m quite nervous each time I send in work or publish a blog post because I know I’ve done my best, but whether that’s readable every time is up to the readers.

    That said, after the first couple of positive comments come in, those blinders go right on! Typos, grammar mix-ups, [hands over ears, singing] la-la-la, I can’t hear you! Lol, so… yeah.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I suffer the same jitters when working on freelance projects (and especially my fiction), Shakirah. Nothing better than the confirmation that what you’ve created isn’t horrible – and is actually appreciated by others. Thanks for stopping by! Don’t even get me started on typos …

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    Shakirah Dawud Reply:

    “Don’t even get me started on typos…”

    Oh, wow, might you be referring to my typo of omission in the first sentence? I meant to say “MY babies” not “babies” as in “all babies.” Goodness!

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  • avatar Linda Anselmi Says:

    Isn’t spring wonderful. I just love all the babies every where in nature. And your owls are adorable. Thanks for insights on owl babies. I had no clue they didn’t start out naked and ugly like other birds.

    As a writer dealing with writer’s block, I really appreciate your post topic. And I’ve got a confession. I’ve been using my ugly babies against me.

    I give myself a dead line to publish something on my blog. What ever I have a that time goes up. Ugly babies indeed. But I know the editor in me won’t allow it to stand. So over the next day, sometimes two, I write and rewrite and polish. It maybe only a short post or poem, but it has my name on it so it has to shine. At least in my eyes.

    Many times the end product looks nothing like the original post. That is what I love about blogging. I can keep working on something until I’m satisfied. Then, of course there are the obvious errors or omissions that jump out at me a week or two later. Even the best trained eyes want to read what they think you wrote, instead of what’s really there.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Say it ain’t so … writer’s block!

    You’re so right about writers’ words being an extension of who they are, so that we very much want to put our BEST work out there. But, alas, you are also right about the perils of self-editing (which happens to me in my freelance work on occasion). Your quote is so true that “even the best trained eyes want to read what they think you wrote, instead of what’s really there.” Argh!

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  • avatar Sharon Bially Says:

    Interesting question. (And what breathtaking pix!) It brings the old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to mind. I mean, maybe the mama birds with the ugly featherless offspring find them to be the most beautiful creatures on earth, and are repulsed by the cute fuzzy owl babes. And many finished books are loved by some and hated by others. And even WIPs, manuscripts, stories and books that generate overall positive reactions have aspects some people like more than others do.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I LOVE your always-introspective take on issues, Sharon. What a great parallel you draw b/w books and birds and “what” defines beauty. That’s the great thing about words, stories, books … that they offer a truly unique experience to each reader.

    By the way: I personally think even the featherless birds are beautiful in their own exposed, helpless way.

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  • avatar Beth Hoffman Says:

    OH … the baby owls are so precious!

    If I let it, my first draft would send me to the crazy house … LOL. So I’ve learned to remind myself that those two words “first” and “draft” are true to their meaning, and I then get on with the task at hand.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I am one of those who DO let my first draft drive me nuts in my quest for perfection. LIttle by little, I’m loosening up, though. Maybe by novel 20, I’ll have it figured out!

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  • avatar Donna Pridgen Says:

    I do prefer to hear the truth! My son, bless his heart, was the ugliest little baby! He was long, had a pointed head and well just plain ugly! I remember people saying he was so cute, with this rather smudged look on their face! Well to his credit, i must say, he grew to be an absolutely handsome young man! So just because they are ugly at birth, they usually grow on you to the point, where they are the cutest babies ever!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Ah… Your last line is so fitting for novels, too: So just because they are ugly at birth, they usually grow on you to the point, where they are the cutest babies ever!

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  • avatar EE Wilder Says:

    I am the one that is most critical of my WIPs. I’m not sure which is worse – being blind to cracks in the veneer or being caught in the web of perfectionism. I use to like to paint in oils because I could work the canvas until it screamed. It was when I finally allowed myself to dare to do watercolors that I did some of my best work. They do not allow you the freedom of constant re-do. The ‘ugly babies’ were always the greatest teachers. Thank you Melissa. You just gave me the vehicle to drive through a block. Loosen up again Betty – let it happen. Actually, I just love characters that surprise me. And, I recently watched an ugly little beetle looking creature as it fledged as an amazing hummingbird. Momma hummer doted on every part of development – not just the beautiful part. (Light bulb moment!)

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh, Elizabeth… I’m so happy that the post gave you some empowerment and tools to move through your writing challenges. THat makes me so happy and is just more confirmation of my response about to Sharon – that, as readers, we all take such different things away from words. I’m so glad my words impacted you in this way! I love your story about the oil painting to water-color, and how “The ‘ugly babies’ were always the greatest teachers.” Indeed, they ARE.

    P.S. Would have LOVED to have seen the maturation of your baby hummingbirds. How fun! Did you get any photos?

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  • avatar Shari Lopatin Says:

    Well, working as a newspaper reporter for a few years, I grew a rather thick skin when it came to my writing. However, my WIP is very close to home for me, and the fictional characters are based off real people in my life. Therefore, brutal honesty may be hard to swallow, regarding “my baby.” However, that critique is soooo necessary, as we want the finished work to stop even Michael Johnson in his tracks. 🙂

    Shari

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    Melissa Reply:

    Hmm. My newspaper reporting still did not aid in a thicker skin. Ha ha. Must still work on that!

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  • avatar Christine Grote Says:

    Great post. I love the photos. And what a way to tie it into what so many of us are interested in — writing. I don’t know if I’m objective. Although I’m critical of many things I write, every now and then I’ll think, that’s really good.

    P.S. I like your spam protection. Much easier for me to add than to decipher some of those other protectors.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Hi Christine! So happy you stopped by. Thanks for the compliments (and you may be one of the first writers to “like” a spam protection that involves MATH … :-).

    I think it’s good to have those “now and then” moments when you think your work sings. Sometimes you DO just ‘know’ when you’ve written something good.

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  • avatar marta Says:

    Step-sister ugly or will-turn-into-swan ugly? I have no idea. I can’t tell.

    But certainly something I must think about.

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