I know I'm growing as a writer. Before, when someone critiqued me and tore my story apart, I bled. Me. I'd think I was a failure and question why I was doing this to myself. I'm done with that. Critiques are so neccesary to writing fiction. The world and story are so alive in my mind, that I cannot convey it all properly right off. Maybe if I had six months to forget the story and read it anew, that would help. But I'd still need the view of someone who hasn't had any exposure to it at all. It's invaluable.
So, Black Violas: I got back two critiques from writers, and two from non-writers. They all helped me understand what isn't working. It was an early draft, I knew it needed work, but I didn't realize how much I really tried to cram into a short story. It seems what I need to do is go in with a highlighter and find everything related to the single most important idea in the story, and anything that supports that. And start the next revision with just that.
It means cutting another character, and actually, I'm all right with that. What's helping me is believing that the story as is, is a novel synopsis, so I can play with all my complications later on, in a stronger form. It's allowing me to let go of what isn't critical for this small piece to work.
There is less than a month until the contest deadline, and I have two other deadlines before it. This is definitely shaping up to be an interesting year--and I am not backing down from the challenge.