Writers need editors before they get an editor. They need to huddle with people who understand, people who will never say, why don’t you find a new hobby, something not so frustrating?
That’s your writing group. The members are your pre-agent, pre-editor, pre-reader, pre-reviewer, as well as support system and safety net.
My group has been meeting for nearly 11 years. People have come and gone, people have bowed out temporarily, but if you go to Mankato’s Wine Cafe every other Wednesday, you’ll find us in the back room with laptops and stacks of paper. We know all the regulars. Hell, we are the regulars.
I asked members to explain what they get from being in a critique group. So here we go:
Becky Fjelland Davis. Author of Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged and Chasing AllieCat. She’s currently shopping a middle-grade novel. She’s a champion cyclist and has the biggest dog I’ve ever seen.
After enough rejections through the years, I find I want other eyes on my work before I send it out. Unless it’s an editor who is buying the manuscript, it’s hard to trust another reader; when you find a group of readers you trust, you want it to stick. Forever.
Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Author of The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don’t Mind (a Minnesota Book Award nominee) and Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. She’s currently finishing a nonfiction book about transgender issues and working on a new novel. She often writes on her deck, the perfect writing den. I have deck envy.
- Having someone else’s eyes on your work. It’s good for keeping your zipper zipped. : )
- Sharing creative ideas & brainstorming together.
- Trusting someone to tell you what works & what doesn’t (makes it easier to kill darlings, for instance).
- Not feeling so alone when writing is shit and you want to quit. And I can tell you, I would have quit long ago without the group.
Kristin Not-sure-if-she-wants-her-full-name-used. She’s written under a pseudonym and has enough fascinating publishing stories she could write a best seller about publishing. Did I mention her husband makes the best caramel rolls I’ve ever eaten? I ate three at one sitting, so I say this with authority.
I would agree with what everyone’s said. Mostly, you all keep me from quitting. In fact, you encourage me to keep writing. I think I would have given up years ago.
Awww, don’t you feel a little teary? Because I do.
In the interest of shorter posts, I’ll share three others tomorrow.