Well, by sacrificing sleep, a great deal of online socializing, and a multitude of other things, I managed to read and critique ten stories for Critters this past week. I earned myself an MPC (Most Productive Critter) award! I now have a jump-to-the-head-of-the-queue-free pass, which I intend to use next week in order to get two more stories critiqued before baby arrives, instead of just one. (If baby refuses to come out on its own and I have to have a repeat c-section then I could get a third, but I doubt I'd be paying much attention to them as they'd be due two days before the c-section would happen.)
Doing all these critiques has another bonus too. You have to do approximately three critiques out of every four weeks in order to have stories critiqued by others, and I now have about 8 extra critiques--meaning I could not participate for 8 weeks before my ratio would dip below 100%. If I keep up with one per week up until baby's arrival, these critiques could get me well into the maternity leave I intend to take for myself. What I'm hoping to do is get a few more stories into the queue and then I'll just let the critiques filter in after baby is born. Then I'll have feedback waiting for me once I feel ready to tackle a rewrite!
If you're wondering what I look like these days, here is the most recent baby bump photo of me:
The data feeding my theories regarding how many Critters critiques one will get was further complicated this week. The story I submitted was only 1,000 words long, which only counts for half credit for critiques. I'd wondered whether that would mean I would get fewer of them--because people would rather read something a little longer and get full credit for it--or if the short length would mean a larger number of critiques because it's a faster read.
Well, as the week started out, it seemed that my second guess would be the correct one. I got 10 critiques on Wednesday and Thursday of last week alone. "Wow," I thought. "It'll take me forever to get through all of these!" But then I stopped getting them. After a few days I even opened up my manuscript on the website to make sure it still loaded okay. Finally, yesterday and today I got four more critiques for a total of 14. My theory on this is that other people like myself, who were trying to get MPCs, were reading the really short stories first because they're easier to cram a few into one day. Then the rest of them might have been people looking for something short to read at the last minute to make sure they get something done. Or I could just be looking for patterns where there are none. Who knows.
Of course, because I was so busy critiquing others this week, I haven't read a single one of the critiques sent to me yet. But I will soon.
Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to getting myself an earlier bedtime again. Sleep never looked so good.