One Man’s Trash

SPECIAL: Congratulation to Stephen Sottong winner of a crit.  

2 randomly selected commenters will win a 5-page critique from either Pam or Tina. Please mention in your comment if you would like to be included in the contest. Must comment by midnight 6/19/2015 and must submit pages by 7/15/15. Please allow a four week turnaround time. Now read below and comments away!




A couple of weeks ago, I had an epic clear-the-house-out-the-kids-are-grown garage sale.

We (I should say I) have been a bit of a hoarder and had allowed my clutter, from baby toys to a giant entertainment center, accumulate over the last ten years.

I am not a garage sale person, so I had no idea how to display, price, or advertise my wares. The internet provided me with some basic guidelines. I got my signs posted, my itemed stickered and placed on tables. I felt prepared.

But I wasn’t .

I had envisioned my Star Wars themed toys, girl’s dresser, Fisher Price toy box in mint condition, a Bassett headboard would be hot items.  I priced these high, expecting them be sold within the first day of the sale.

But I was wrong.

Every group of people from men, to women, to couples, to children were attracted to vastly different things.

The men wanted tools, yard supplies, building materials, fishing stuff. I had few of these items, but what I did have sold quickly. Even my non-working weed wacker was sold to a gentlemen who had a handy gleam in his eye and ‘new project’ on the brain.

A woman came and sorted through piles of stuffed animals, some for her collection, some for her dogs, some for selling on EBAY.

An older couple who must still have their VCR intact, grabbed a box of my VHS tapes.

Some of the objects I thought for sure would fly from the shelves, lingered on the last day, and only sold after deep discounting.

I had a lot left overs, but it was worth the effort. If nothing else, the sale taught me a lesson. Every human is different with different taste, wants, and needs. This thought is both daunting and encouraging to a writer.

In a recent contest I entered, I got some crazy feedback . Most loved the story and gave me scores in  the high nineties out of a hundred. Then there was that one judge. She may have been having an off day, or just hated YA, or perhaps it was just her honest opinion, but she absolutely hated every little thing about my story. From the protagonist, to the grammar, to the storyline, (she did like the setting though-yeah!) she scored me fifty-three. Really. Half of what I’d earned from the other judges.

I got upset, until I remembered the garage sale.

Some people just love stuffed animals and don’t need a Star Wars collectible. Some customers adore Twilight and others would not wipe their bum with the pages. Interest, tastes, needs, differ.

Sometimes you just hit people at the wrong time.

And I also will apply this way of thinking to writing in general. Even if your writer’s group thinks a mermaid/vampire romance is a horrible idea, but there may be a market for it. If you enjoy the concept, why not someone else? Don’t allow a few naysayers suck your passion. You may just need to put up more garage sale signs to cast a wider net.

I will take her critique with a boulder of salt and see if I can salvage advice that would improve my story. I won’t let it bother me. Because the saying is true. One reader’s trash is another reader’s treasure.

Comment below. Have you had a weird garage sale experience? Got an extremely harsh critique? Share below. Or just stop in to say ‘hi’.




11 thoughts on “One Man’s Trash

  1. Sam Stewart

    I still cringe at the thought of my childhood being sold bit by bit, and even more when I realized I helped you do it. But yeah I will now go back to writing my crazy mermaid/vampire/fairy/dinosaur thing. (Which I could totally make work) ((SEE MOM I DO READ YOUR THINGS))

    1. Pam Post author

      As Elsa from Frozen would say, “Let it go!” I look forward to your mermaid/vampire/fairy/dino thing (dino erotica is thing *cringe*), perhaps I can critique it? Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading, daughter of mine.

      1. Sam Stewart

        LOL See I don’t even need to win a contest to get your help, but don’t tell the others, they might get jealous that their mothers are not as awesome.

  2. Terri

    I have a couple young Star Wars geeks in my house who would have been drawn to those “treasures” of yours like a magnet–but they would have had to spend their own money, because I have different priorities for mine and I wouldn’t have wanted to pay “collector prices” for what they would use as toys.

    (Not in the competition just couldn’t resist a writer’s post about garage sale truths.)

    1. Pam Post author

      Ha! Thanks for throwing in your quarter (two cents didn’t seem like enough for such a good comment :)) The Star Wars items were priced to sell at $3-5. Again I wish you lived closer. 🙁 But happy to see you virtually. 😀

  3. Tina

    I’m always interested in what parts someone picks at during a critique and what parts are left alone. I sometimes like to study other people’s critiques of works I’ve read to see what points are made and if they had the same issues I did (or not). It really does feel subjective on some issues (and depends on what the reader was reading for). I think the more writers can realize that it’s often times a taste issue, the better they can let any negative feelings they might feel from a non-glowing critique go.

  4. Jeanne

    Visiting by way of Tina’s guest interview today over on the Rubies’ blog.

    I entered my paranormal romance, Demon’s Wager, in five contests this winter and across all five contestes, for every three judges who read my pages:

    1 loved it
    1 liked it
    1 hated it.

    My takeaway is just what you describe–each to her own. You’re not going to please everyone, so write a story that pleases you.

    1. Pam Post author

      Congrats being on that contest trail. It is painful to put your work up for scrutiny. Well done. And good attitude. Thanks for stopping!


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