Monday, November 28, 2011

Life Support...

Recently I had to write my first acknowledgment page. Seems silly, but it was a moment. It was something I’d dreamed about for so long, and something that might not have even happened had I not crawled out from under my safe little rock…

I’ll admit it. I used to be delusional. I had this idea in my head that writers were solitary creatures that only crawled out from under their rock once or twice a day to forage for food and scope things out. This worked for me as I’ve always been incredibly shy. I know, I know—but it’s true. Unless I know you, getting more than three words from me face to face is life trying to yank a pineapple through a pin hole. So the whole works in solitude thing? I was in love.

And I did it for a while. Holed up under my nifty little rock and wrote like there was no tomorrow. But I knew my stuff was lacking. It needed polishing and objective opinions and I wasn’t going to get that by letting my family and friends read it. If I heard one more, Oh it was great. I loved it, and it’s perfect just the way it is, I was going to yak. So I clawed my way out of the hole and joined my first writers group. I kept up with it for a little while, but that particular one just wasn’t a good fit. I never really meshed with any of the members—and trust me. It’s all about meshing.

Finally ready to take another stab at it, I joined RWA for the sole purpose of joining FF&P. That went better. It was less cliquey and had fewer time restrictions on posting to their critique forum, and because it was such a specific kind of group, there were more people that wrote and read what I did. Through FF&P I found my first CPs (who I will chase to the ends of the earth should they ever try to leave me) and then, finally, Savvy Authors.

These people—these communities—are my life support. Without them, I’d still be the person who didn’t know pitches from prologues. The right community will encourage you, give honest feedback (no matter how hard it might be to hear), and supply a shoulder to cry on when rejections and the occasional bad review hit—because they will hit. It’s a part of the process. You’ll learn with each other and from each other.

Your turn! Tell us about how you found your first writing community or critique partner. Do you have one, or are you part of a group? I’m interested to know what people think of online groups versus face to face ones!


Natalie Aguirre said...

I had a face to face group that I met through a writing class and SCBWI. We disbanded this summer because we weren't meeting much. I am missing a face to face group so through our SCBWI group, I'm going to join a new one in January that I hope will work better for me.

I also share online critiques with a friend I met through SCBWI. I like both. Awesome that you wrote an acknowledgment page! That's a great milestone.

Colette Ballard said...

Jus, great post and congrats on writing your acknowledgement page! I found my crit. group through a post on the SCBWI (midsouth) listserv when someone was interested in starting a YA group in Louisville. There are six of us now, and we meet face to face twice a month. Joining this group has been the best thing that's ever happened to my writing!! I highly recommend it: )

Rachel Harris said...

I decided I wanted to try writing in July of 2010. I got to work plotting my story and figuring out my characters, and around the beginning of August I wrote the words "Chapter One." I was lucky that in my OBSESSIVE research phase the previous month that I discovered a free YA/MG writer's group in my area spearheaded by Mary Lindsey (Shattered Souls). That group inspired me so much, and I went home that day with two CPs!

Right now I have 4 hard core girls in my circle that I just love to death, and strangely none of them live anywhere near me. I first found Trish on Twitter, responding to some writerly comment or another. We were partners for about four months when we started an online group with two others we had met through Twitter, and then I met my final homegirl through the YASisterhood on Facebook.

Critique Partners--especially when they are the right fit of different genres and backgrounds and styles that can bring new light and eyes to your work--make all the difference. I would soooo suck without them :-)

Tracy March said...

Interesting post, Jus. I'm like you--content with the solitary writing life. But it really can't be solitary, can it?

I have found that individual critique relationships work best for me. Thank goodness for those who are willing to be honest--and make us better writers!

Congratulations on the success of TOUCH. It's a fantastic read!

Aubrie said...

Writing groups and critique partners are a must for me! I met mine through a small ebook company that's now out of business, but we are all still together!

Patricia Eimer said...

I have a group but I also work with a few solitary CP partners. It's a mix for me. But it works so who am I to complain?

Lisa Kessler said...

I have a great crit group from FF&P too! :)

I also have two first readers that I'm so lucky to have in my Mom and my hubby. They're usually fast and their feedback is very valuable!

And Panda (my 20 year old daughter) is starting to read for me too... She's better at overall feedback as in "I was almost bored right here..." LOL

Great blog Jus!!!

Lisa :)

Sarah Allen said...

I was lucky enough to have 3 english majors as roommates, so even though they're close friends, they still have some good ideas and feedback. I could definitely use some expanding on my beta readers circle, so this post was a good reminder and had some great ideas. Thanks!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Kurt Hampe said...

Good post Jus. I'm the SCBWI-Midsouth Critique Group Coordinator, so I've watched several groups form--and a few fade. To succeed, the members must submit consistently and take the time to give an in-depth read and honest feedback.

Tracy Bilen said...

I was at an SCBWI conference when another writer won a door prize in the last session - I remembered her name from another conference where someone had said that we might be a good critique partner match. I kept asking myself - do I go up to her or not? I finally did, and it was the best decision ever!!