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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Time (11/15/12)

TITLE: Time for a Change
By Clyde Blakely


There come episodes in everyone’s life where a change must take place. It can be an individual decision or an event happens outside the control of the individual’s ability to prevent it which forces the change. I’ve come to one of those cross road decisions and it was hard to make as it has been a part of me for several years: the FaithWriters challenge. When I was still employee servicing Veterans I became intrigued with their stories of being in the military and began writing them down. I interviewed over 10,000 Veterans and also learned that I could not write so I joined a local writing club and FaithWriters.
The two became separate in my goals, however. The local writing group gave me a face-to-face critique and I eventually became the co-author of four books and its president. FaithWriters gave me an opportunity to share my faith and hopefully bless others at the same time. Never claiming to be an expert writer, particularly now, I did progress to this level and one Editor’s Choice from becoming a Peter Principle member (no, I’m not saying the Masters’ members are Peter Principle quality – only I might be). But features of FaithWriters have changed. Some for the good and perhaps some for the not so good.
As I mentioned I was one of those contributors to FaithWriters who like to write, tried to share their faith and loved to bless others. It was a real challenge in the Advance group to be in the top five when there were 30-40 some entries. But the rules and circumstances started to change. First it there were paid editors which was good, then the rules for each entry changed and new, and welcomed, members of FaithWriters came on board. For some reason the contributors to the challenge contest started dwindling to the last challenge only ten entered. But also the comments changed from “this is a blessing to me” and “thank you for sharing this” and “this is technically okay, however…” to the latter being the vast majority of the comments.
There were included in this new group of critiques/commenters an individual who was generally one of the first to give a mini-thesis in the positive/negative/positive approach which technically is good but the final analysis was always “this doesn’t meet the expectations/standards”. After her comment there was rarely a positive one given. When someone is led by the Spirit in writing, even with tears of joy while doing so, this type of consistent response is not a blessing or encouragement. After 129 challenge entries over almost six years to seldom submitting secondary to the above it is time to move on. My wife is now president of the local writing group, I am retired, and that book about Veterans’ stories still lies in the computer begging to be finished. It is with sadness and somewhat with relief that I bid all my fellow writers farewell to the challenges and look forward to continue reading for those blessings.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 401 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Christina Banks 11/24/12
Wishing you well as you work on those stories, and praying that God will use you through them.
C D Swanson 11/27/12
Thank you for your contributions...and I pray that you will continue to be led by the Spirit as you move in His name through your words. God Bless you~
Amy Michelle Wiley 11/27/12
I think it's sad that you find the helpful comments frustrating. I've been working with FaithWriters for over seven years now and one of the biggest requests we get is to please offer more critiquing. People come here to FW because they want to improve their writing. I think the "this is a blessing" comments are sweet, but they won't help me make my writing have more of an impact, and that's what I desire the most.

The change to more constructive criticism on the comments is not because of one individual, but rather because the majority of the contestants are requesting the commenters to do exactly that. On the message boards I see people complaining all the time that they aren't getting as much deep feedback as they want--just the opposite of what you say here.

I'm sorry that what the others have asked for isn't helpful for you. We've talked about trying to add a button like the regular articles have that you can use to indicate whether or not you want a critique, but the software doesn't seem to allow that on the challenge articles.
Noel Mitaxa 11/27/12
Change is the one constant feature of life, and we make our own decisions as we pray them through and seek God's wisdom from his word and from trusted friends. I wish you well in your decision to move on, but you must ask if it offers you as much scope to encourage your Christian colleagues as you alreday have at present.
Your entry expresses some frustration, but before you shut the door, could I suggest that you invite your closest FW friends to pray: with you:
1)for the member who is giving you grief.

2)for your own reaction to reflect God's grace, so you and the member may discover how God's corrective peace may be a growth point for both of you.
After prayer, you may then use Matthew 18 as a guide to a personal approach which invites that mutual growth. From there you will be free to leave - with no regrets - or to stay and build the encouragement that keeps other members like this modestly-equipped Aussie keyboard pecker in the family.
Danielle King 11/28/12
I have to agree with the above member's comments and there's nothing I can add to them.

I'm sure you will have sought God's guidance in this,so if you still feel that this is the right thing to do I wish you well.

God Bless.

Dannie Hawley 11/28/12
I feel a bit uncomfortable addressing your letter to the challenge writers here, since the instructions say it is a place for review and commenting on the person's writing. However, your article is, clearly, not intended to be the typical challenge article that tries to leave folks with an inspirational message, while inviting other writers to help make our work better.

I can honestly say that i thought i was a pretty good writer when I joined FW last January 29. I believed the accolades of others who read my work, none of whom were writers, actually. I had decades of writing mission newsletters. What I was looking for in joining was friends who liked to write,since i thought this was all i lacked. I had no idea how much better i could write, if I would be humble enough to consider FW commenters' suggestions.

The first time I received a comment that had a tiny bit of red ink, I took a second look and, sure enough, I had been wrong. When the purple ink came, well, I thought the commenter was being critical. Then, I took a second look and, the criticism, if taken constructively, made my piece so much better. After that, I just knew I needed that red and purple ink to make the best final draft.

On Thanksgiving day, I was moved to Masters and, truthfully, I can say that the constructive comments Shann has given me over all these months is the reason for the advancement. Others say nice things that make me feel like the message is getting through and, of course, that warms my heart. But, I need truth from an editor's pen and, in the opinion of this beginner, Shann is the best, most honest commenter I have had. No, I don't always agree with her and I don't always make the changes but, when Shann says she dosn't get it, I know that there are likely to be others that don't get it either. I step back to take a second look. If I can see what is missing from everyone being able to get it, I make changes. Like one writing book I read said, "Unless your friends and family can buy enough books to support your writing (as truly they will buy everything you rite becasue you wrote it), you would do well to take the suggestions and comments of critics with all seriousness." If you don't agree with the critics, just don't take their advice. It's just one person's opinion, as we are taught to tell ourselves when that rejection slip comes from the agent or editor.
The writing books all tell me to toughen up and grow a thick skin, if i want to be a writer. Seems to me that the editors need a few more layers than the writers.
Hiram Claudio11/28/12
I appreciate your honesty and the courage you must have needed to express your feelings in this forum. I, like Amy, have been one of those who like being critiqued constructively and appreciate the "red ink" I get since one of my main goals is to improve. I too wish you well and pray the Lord uses you to bless many!
Frankie Kemp 11/29/12
I think an important question we might all ask ourselves is why we are here--writing. The ultimate goal of writing, for me, is to be heard. Communication cannot occur if my message is not received, so if what I write does not convey my intent to a reader, there is a disruption somewhere. Sometimes--probably most of the time--the miscommunication occurs because of my "encoding," my choice of words and style. Sometimes, the fault is the receiver's--but if my goal is to get my message to the ears of the receiver, no matter what, I will change the way I present it in order to be more effectively heard.

If we go through our lives never thinking that we can "tweak" our writing style and voice in order to be more effective, we will remain static as writers. We NEED an outside eye to look at our work and give us another perspective.

I understand that there is much more involved in the writing process because for people who are passionate about it, every piece we write is akin to a piece of ourselves--or perhaps even like one of our children that we are exposing to the world to be accepted or rejected. When we've written something that we believe was Holy Spirit inspired, it is even harder to have it exposed to evaluation.

However . . . if we are entering challenges because we want to hone the craft of writing, we NEED to be pushed and exposed and have weak spots perfected. It is a blessing to have a place to do that with sensitive topics and feel safe in doing so. I cannot speak for everyone, but I KNOW without a doubt that God led me to Faithwriters as a safe place to both share my heart and life experiences and also work on improving my skills as a writer.

If I truly want to improve and have something to offer the public that they will readily read and relate to, I WANT others to read it first and help me--show me what works and what doesn't, give me pointers. A true friend loves you for who you are but also pushes and admonishes you to what you can be.

The Holy Spirit, Himself, does not leave us as we are. He is constantly at work in us conforming us. It's not always easy--and as someone who is sensitive about something as precious as her writing, I can completely relate to what it feels like to have my "babies" exposed to criticism. BUT . . . when that criticism comes from a place that genuinely wants the best for my babies, it is easier for me to get past my own instinctive nature to defend and protect them.

I am grateful for the reviews and critiques I get from the challenge judges. Right now, there's not a lot of other people reading my writing, so it's a TREMENDOUS blessing to have those who are willing to do so. May God richly bless all the readers and writers on this site, and may His Spirit move among us reminding us constantly that we are all working toward the same goal: presenting a message of hope and faith and the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that is terribly distracted by a whirlwind of other messages.